Everyday purchases

Anyone up for some Sinterklaas sweets? (Or: Albert Heijn offerings)

One of the local Albert Heijns has an entire wall display for Sinterklaas sweets:

Think of things like speculaas with almond filling (cakieshq.com), spiced kruidnoten cookies (thespruceeats.com) and the softer pepernoten cookies (allrecipes.com).

Autumn arrived at the end of September, bringing a lot of rain and cold with it. If you are not paying attention, you will get caught in a sudden downpour that soaks you and then dissipates within 10 minutes. Marco and I also still need to try the yearly traditional of oliebollen, as I mentioned in a previous blog post. Soon!

At least the weather looks a bit drier this week, even if the warmth of summer is gone.

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Eyes wide open (Or: Slightly creepy Albert Heijn mascot)

Imagine my surprise when the mascot at Albert Heijn (one of the local grocery stores) was staring at me creepily while I was choosing which sparkling water to purchase. I don’t know; maybe it was the wide open eyes staring back at me? Also slightly creepy is the very realistic pink nose with wrinkles..

But that will never top the satirical video that made fun of stockpiling (YouTube) last March at the height of the corona craziness. It used images from a movie, with the Albert Heijn jingle slowed down and creepy sounding on top of it. Twitch.

Dutch lesson: 2e gratis = second (item) free.

2 = twee, second = tweede, which frequently gets abbreviated to 2e.

Happy Friday, everyone!

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August (Or: Did you know it is already time for Sinterklaas?)

Marco and I visited Action today. Action (English Wikipedia) is a cheap store, kind of like Dollar General in the US without saying everything is a dollar.

Imagine my surprise (okay, not really) when we saw that Action was selling kruidnoten (English Wikipedia) already. Although I know Roger already saw some at the beginning of this month. Kruidnoten is a hard cookie-like confectionery sold in the time leading up to the Sinterklaas holiday on 5 December. These days it starts appearing in August, and 2021 was no exception.

They also had other Sinterklaas items for sale:

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Loot! (Or: Kelly’s expat store)

What does one do when they have a day off? They go to Kelly’s expat store, of course!

Here is my loot:

We have:

  • 4 bottles of Cholula’s chipotle hot sauce
  • 2 bottles of Cholula’s sweet haberno hot sauce
  • 1 bottle of Cholula’s chili garlic hot sauce
  • 2 bottles of Red’s devil wing barbecue sauce
  • 1 bottle of French’s yellow mustard
  • 3 bottles of Coffee-mate, French Vanilla flavor (liquid, of course… the powdered version is not worth it)
  • 2 boxes of Ritz crackers (best eaten with Fabi Lobi peanut butter… that is peanut butter made with Madam Jeanette pepper. So spicy, but oh so tasty!)
  • 2 boxes of Old El Paso’s “stand ‘n’ stuff” taco boats
  • Taki’s (Mexican chips), blue heat flavor – impulse buy #1
  • Mini baking marshmallows – impulse buy #2
  • 1 box of sultana raisin scones – impulse buy #3

That is way more than I expected to buy, but it was worth it.

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Covid tests at the local supermarket (Or: Quite a supply)

Covid quick tests for home use have been available at Dutch supermarkets for the last month or two. Today I noticed a pile of tests by the self-checkout. I am sure they have always been there and that I just hadn’t noticed them.

The government has a page (in Dutch) listing which quick tests are officially recognized in the Netherlands.

In other news: five new islands have been added to the Netherlands in a 78 million euro project. The Dutch are known for reclaiming land from the sea, as you probably know. This dutchnews.nl article says the islands have been reclaimed for use in nature.

Also: Golden Carriage arrives at Amsterdam Museum after restoration from dutchnews.nl. The golden carriage needed to be maneuvered into position with a crane, as the carriage was placed in the (inner) courtyard. The museum used to be an orphanage and orphans had helped design the carriage back in 1898, hence why it is going on display there after a five year renovation.

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Chai latte (Or: With an extra espresso please)

Last weekend Marco and I stopped by FOAM restaurant here in The Hague to have a coffee. I would say we were also trying to grab a few moments of sunshine, but to be honest it was pretty cloudy and quite windy the whole time we were there. Hopefully next time will be better?

I ordered a chai latte (plus extra espresso!) and Marco ordered a matcha latte. I really liked my chai latte – it was sweet but still had a nice kick of coffee behind it.

Tomorrow Marco and I both have the day off. I have an appointment at the hair dresser for a touch up. Someone please remind me why I scheduled it so early? There is no opportunity to sleep in at all. But that also means I have more of the day to enjoy after my hair is done… so that is good, right?

I am looking forward to the change in weather, as it should start warming up a bit tomorrow. Perhaps it won’t be full sunshine yet, but at least it won’t be cold like it was this morning. How could it almost be June but still be so windy and cold?

In other (slightly crazy news): the police in Zwolle arrested a driver who was in possession of 550kg (1,200 pounds) of laughing gas (!). The article is from nos.nl in Dutch. If you want to transport more than 2 kilos of laughing gas you need to have a special permit. It is considered a party drug in the Netherlands; every few weeks there is a car crash reported in the news where the driver had laughing gas in the car.

Usually it is not 550kg of laughing gas, though…

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The promise of thunderstorms (Or: A low rumbling)

As I write this, thunder rumbles in the distance. I miss a good thunderstorm; they aren’t as prevalent here in the Netherlands. Or when you do have them they are not loud enough. I did find a website which shows lightning strikes in realtime (from blitzortung.org). It is just a bit hypnotizing to watch.

Did you ever expect to see popcorn in the breakfast aisle? I did not, but here is a photo from a local grocery store:

That is a granola based cereal with oat, corn flakes and crisps. And popcorn…

I already knew things were going downhill 20 years ago when I saw Reese’s Puffs for the first time, which according to Wikipedia was first launched in 1994. My, how time flies. That cereal is flavored with chocolate and peanut butter, which seemed excessive to me.

I can’t complain, though. One of my best “cereal” memories was of a paper slide built into the back of a Cocos Puffs cereal box. You could roll pieces of cereal down the chute and then eat them. Or there is the memory of me as a young adult eating (dry) cheerios with a diet Dr Pepper on the side for lunch. I loved it.

I guess we are all weird in our own way.

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When does air equal water? (Or: A riddle for you)

Last week Marco picked up some pancake mix from the local grocery store, Albert Heijn. The brand was Pondan, an Indonesian company.

I was slightly confused when I looked at the back of packaging to see what extra ingredients were needed (top left with the red arrow):

What? I need 100ml air? How does that work?

And then my brain kicked in and my eyes started working. Air in Indonesian is water in English. How confusing!

But I must admit I love the fact that most packaging is not just in Dutch. Usually you see Dutch and French, because the two main languages in Belgium are Dutch and French. My contact solution bottle has 10+ languages on it. It’s so different from packaging in the United States. For logical reasons of course, but it still is something that makes me pause sometimes.

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Fridays and lattes (Or: Turmeric in your coffee?)

Today’s photo is of a turmeric latte that Marco ordered last week at FOAM restaurant in The Hague. Check out the vibrant colors:

And of course I had to be boring and order a sparkling water. Next time I will look at the menu faster, but I was busy taking a photo of the “this table is reserved” spoon!

In other news: Naturalis (a museum in Leiden) was named as the European museum of the year for 2021 (naturalis.nl, in English). I have never been there, but considering Leiden is only 15-20 minutes away by train, perhaps I should consider it. Once things calm down a bit, of course… One of their most prized assets is the T-Rex skeleton named Trix.

Netherlands in 9th for EU Covid vaccines; 6.1 million shots estimated from notices.nl. But keep in mind the Dutch minister of health wants to be administering 2.5 million vaccinations per week by the end of this month (!). Hospitals will be responsible for up to 500,000 shots per week (article from nos.nl in Dutch). This was always part of the plan but it will be interesting to see if they get enough workers to be able to pull this off.

Happy Friday, everyone!

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My favorite color scheme (Or: Water pitcher by Blokker)

You know how as you get older you want to purchase new cups, plates or bowls because they look pretty? But you realize that would be silly because you have perfectly fine tableware at home (especially tableware that you also think is pretty)? And then you don’t buy it, because it isn’t logical to buy yet another cup just because it looks pretty.

If I could start over (and no Marco, I don’t want to start over! I like what we have too!), I would go with this color scheme:

It is a water pitcher by Blokker. I have no interest in buying a water pitcher, but I’ve seen this color theme with cups at other stores. Every time I see it, I love it.

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