Everyday purchases

Old finds at Xenos (Or: Sinterklaas chocolate letters in January)

Back on the day that stores were allowed to reopen (January 15) I saw a curious find at Xenos. Xenos is a national chain here in The Netherlands. The Dutch Wikipedia page summarizes it well when they say Xenos specializes in selling “mass produced exotic goods”.

Well, apparently they also had a leftover stock of chocolate letters (English Wikipedia) from the Sinterklaas holiday, celebrated on 5 December. I know the stores had to close in mid-December due to the lockdown, but still! Albert Heijn and Hema always clear out their stock even before 5 December.

Of course, at this point they only had the most common letters (M) or some rarer ones (O, P). They still had all of the usual flavors, though. Milk chocolate, white chocolate, dark chocolate, hazelnut…

In other news, for the history buffs among us:

Digitalised Holland Amerika line passenger lists reveal famous names from dutchnews.nl. “The digital archive, which is kept at the Rotterdam city archive and accessible to the public, covers the period between 1900 and 1969 when millions of people made the journey [from Rotterdam to the United States] and took three years to complete.” Apparently Albert Einstein was also one of the regular passengers, as he frequently taught a course at nearby Leiden University. The direct link to the list is available here (stadsarchief.rotterdam.nl, in Dutch).

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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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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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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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Random find at the Asian store (Or: Instant coffee with…wait, what?!)

Have you ever had instant coffee?

Sure, we all have.

But have you had instant coffee with added vitamin C and collagen for clear skin?

No, I didn’t think so. Although a Google search for collagen coffee does lead me to believe it is more popular than I am thinking… So if you have, leave a comment with how it tastes.

In other news, I just read that the annual New Year’s Eve bonfire is cancelled again this year (omroepwest.nl, in Dutch). Same with the local Christmas market, which was cancelled a few days ago (royalchristmasfair.nl, in English). It is what it is – although it will be weird once we get a “normal” holiday season again.

Eindhoven [a Dutch city] has a creepy announcement warning people to keep their distance from dutchreview.nl. Eindhoven has promised to turn down the sound and play the message less frequently – at the busiest times of the day it was every 15 minutes!

The Dutch are testing a weirdly cute robo-dog in Rotterdam Centraal [a train station], also from dutchreview.nl. Very cute, even if it is expensive, priced at €100,000. Yikes.

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Spotted at Hema (Or: Anyone up for some tompouce flavored ale?)

Last week Roger spotted some tompouce flavored ale at Hema:

How crazy is that! Considering it has Hema branding, it looks to be a Hema exclusive. And if you need a reminder about what tompouce is, check out the English Wikipedia article. It is quite tasty but difficult to eat!

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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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