Friends&Family

I say Heyyy Ohhh (Or: Green Day at the Ziggo Dome)

On Tuesday night Marco, Roger and I went to the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam to see the punk rock band Green Day perform.

green-day-concert-jan-2017-amterdam-ziggo-dome

The setlist for the night is available at setlist.fm. They played for at least 2 1/2 hours (they were scheduled for 3, but even 2 1/2 seemed like a decent amount).

green-day-concert-jan-2017-amterdam-ziggo-dome-mike-dirnt

guitarist Mike Dirnt graces our corner (he came over frequently)

My favorite song that they played was Are We The Waiting (YouTube). From the new album I only wish they had played Say Goodbye (YouTube again), although they don’t seem to play that one on tour. Oh well – can’t have it all!

green-day-concert-jan-2017-amterdam-ziggo-dome-flames

Instant wall of heat. It felt nice, since it was so brief…

It was a really good show. I definitely woke up sore in the morning, but it was still worth it.

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Be the first to defuse an exploding kitten (Or: Fun card games)

For Christmas Marco and I got Roger a copy of Exploding Kittens, a card game “for people who are into kittens and explosions. And laser beams. And sometimes goats”. In this case we got the NSFW version, but they also have a normal version.

exploding-kittens-card-game

A look at the card game

It’s an interesting card game. The goal is to not get an exploding kitten card (the black card at right). If you do, you are out of the game unless you also have a green defuse card like the one on the left. Two interesting twists:

  • You end your turn by picking up a card, rather than starting your turn by doing so.
  • There is no need to reshuffle the current deck because the game will definitely end by the last card. This is because you the number of exploding kittens and defuse cards is based on the size of the group playing, and you always have one less defuse card than exploding kitten card.

We also played a game of Skip-Bo, another card game. That game has the advantage of time management – the number of cards you deal at the beginning of the game to each player is your choice. If you deal less cards, the game ends quicker than if you had dealt more cards.

skip-bo-card-game

Finally, a shoutout to a friend living in Japan who sent over some nice snacks. In this case, the Japanese snacks are the larger pieces in the upper right:

various-salty-snacks-while-playing-skip-bo

Not quite sure what they are made of, but they were good! Thanks again!

The other snacks are sour cream and chive pretzels as well as Dutch borrelnootjes (“party nuts”) – Dutch Wikipedia. They are peanuts surrounded by a salty, spiced layer. A bit hard to describe, but tasty in moderation.

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Not so Christmasy Christmas (Or: San Francisco for the holidays)

Last week Marco and I were in San Francisco for the holidays with my parents, brother and sister-in-law. It was a short trip, but a lot of fun! I didn’t take too many pictures this time, but here is a small sampling:

san-francisco-pier

One of the piers at San Francisco

bridge-in-san-francisco

San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge (not to be confused with the Golden Gate bridge which everyone photographs)

powell-and-market-cable-car-san-francisco-wooden-platform

Powell and Market cable car

This cable car is positioned at the turnaround point – the cable car stops on a wooden platform before being rotated to head back in the same direction it came. See a demonstration at YouTube.

holiday-sugar-castle-in-westin-hotel-san-francisco-2016

Sugar castle at Westin St. Hotel lobby, San Francisco (free to view, donations optional)

We also visited the Exploratorium, an interactive exhibit hall for both kids and adults. It was a lot of fun and I can highly recommend it. One of the exhibits was the Curious Contraptions exhibit. Clicking the link will show a short 47 second video of what made them so curious…

swimmers-at-exploratorium-curious-contraptions-exhibit

Turn a crank and watch the item move (or in this case, press a button on the outside of the glass since these items are too delicate to be touched directly).

Another example of automata are the Dutch Strandbeest creatures created by Theo Jansen, born in nearby Scheveningen. Those were also referenced in the Exploratorium.

Finally, here is a fun workout for you:

manual-counter-at-exploritorium-in-san-francisco

“Your turn counts” exhibit

Read more about it at the exhibit page – basically if you turn the lever at the right, the wooden wheel spins. Turn that ten times and the grey wheel (currently at 0, though the 9 can also be seen) turns once. Turn THAT once (so the wooden wheel 100 times) and the next wheel turns, the black one currently at 0, and so on. Patience…

All in all a fun trip. And you better believe we raided a few grocery stores for some American snacks!

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Tapas at the Mezze (Or: Dinner out in Scheveningen)

Amazingly my birthday celebrations are still going strong a week and a half later! My taalcoach (language coach, Den Haag SamenSpraak) invited Marco and I to dinner at the Mezze, an Arabic/Moroccan tapas bar in Schveningen. It’s actually right next to the Kurhaus, on the side facing away from the beach.

The food was great – we did the all you can eat buffet which meant everyone could choose what they wanted. And go back multiple times for the same item, in my case…  Below is a look at some of my food (bottom plate) and Marco’s food (top plate). A mix of cold and warm items.

Buffet at Mezze Arabische Tapasbar

Quite simple but the thing I kept going back for was the soup and bread. Did I ever mention I love bread? Yum. Actually, in the picture above you also see the bread (the slightly darker pieces on the plate itself) – it’s just been cooked for another day and is much crispier. I prefer the softer bread at the far right above or in the picture below, though.

Soup at Mezze Arabische Tapasbar

The area where we ate was in the glass enclosed terrace. Even though it was a cold day outside, it was warm enough inside, thanks to a healthy fire in the middle of the table.

Rocks and fire at Mezze Arabische Tapasbar

The restaurant also has belly dancers on the weekends. I didn’t get a picture of it, but she had a very pretty navel piercing – a blue jewel.

Dancer at Mezze Arabische Tapasbar

And because I just like colorful plates, here’s a look at the choices for the soup bowls. One of these does not belong…

Bowls at Mezze Arabische Tapasbar

Afterwards we had dessert and coffee back at their house. Check out the desserts! Of course I went for the chocolate one. 🙂

Dessert cakes

But check out the design at the bottom of this one. Very cool!

Dessert cake

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Birthday presents (Or: A year wiser?)

Last week I celebrated another birthday. Here’s a look at some (but unfortunately not all) of the highlights…

First, a bouquet of paper flowers made by my father-in-law and his wife. Still wrapped:

Paper flower bouquet (still wrapped)

Unwrapped:

Paper flower bouquet

A close up of the butterfly. Do you see what the roses are made of? Wrapped chocolate and the best paper you could make flowers out of — 5 euro notes!

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Nature (Or: Peace in contemplation)

A few weeks ago Marco, his mom and I visited Marco’s uncle and aunt again. The occasion? A photo session with the extended family. And what do I do during a photo session? Take my own photos of course! Here are some of the best I took:

Buddha statue through pine trees

Peace in contemplation

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C’s (Or: Coffee, cheesecake and countryside)

A few weeks ago Marco and I went back to the Cheesecake Company by the Grote Kerk. I’ve posted about this place many times – they even served the cheesecake at our wedding! It isn’t quite our two year anniversary yet but this time they did have the same flavor as our heart-shaped wedding cheesecake, white chocolate cappuccino… So of course we ended up choosing that one.

White chocolate cappuccino cheesecake
And on Saturday Marco, his mother and I had dinner over at De Gezelligheid (near Amersfoort) with the family. The food at De Gezelligheid was pretty good. We started off with “de spiegel” (the mirror) which was a sampling of all of their starter items served on a platter. My favorite item was the fried mushroom, of all things. For the main dish I had a hamburger with thick cut fries. Yum.

Of course we had to stop at the Starbucks at Centraal Station, so I decided to take a photo of the wall (doesn’t everyone want to take a photo of a wall?):

Wall at Starbucks - Last 10 feet
Love or hate Starbucks – I just like the cool font and presentation!

Here is a photo of the lake by Marco’s uncle, with a Buddha statue on the other side (in the shadows):

Countryside in the Netherlands
Quite peaceful.

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Marco’s birthday (Or: Friday festivities and stormy Saturdays)

Saturday was Marco’s birthday. Fijne verjaardag! We had a few parties to celebrate. The first was at Eten en zo (a buffet type restaurant) with Marco’s father and his wife. They made a really awesome birthday card for Marco. As Marco says: first she made awesome cards. Then she made awesome 3D cards. And now… Well now she made this:

Birthday card box

It’s a box. Go on, open it. I dare you.

(When you open it the four sides fall outward.) Echt gaaf, zeg!

Opened birthday card boxThey also gave him this really cool “money plant” proving once and for all that money does grow on trees (het is bewijs dat geld wél aan bomen groeit). Two cucumbers as plants, with many 50 cent pieces stuck in them, and a few 10 euro bills fastened together like flower blooms.

Saturday Roger and Marco’s mom came over. Originally Marco wanted to barbecue but we heard on Friday that the coast areas were going to see some storm action (up to 55-70mph winds). We went to see Ant-Man with Roger in the afternoon and it was already pretty windy with a lot of rain at times. The only thing that kept my Wrigley Field hat on was that I put my ponytail through it. Okay, and it’s not my hat. I borrowed it from Marco. 😉

Around 6pm we got a call from Marco’s mom that her tram wasn’t running and that she was going to try the bus. Until then I hadn’t thought to check public transportation – though HTM only had general warnings placed across all lines versus any specific warnings. Fallen trams on the tracks or lines above were the main issues. But she eventually made it!

Dinner was pulled chicken (cooked for hours in the slow cooker), potato bits and bourbon glazed carrots. Birthday presents were mainly cooking related this year, with a barbecue tong, thermometer, and skewers unwrapped. Other presents included an Xbox game (Witcher), a few t-shirts and a tea timer (like an hourglass but with gel).

Luckily by the time things wrapped up the storm had died down. Now we can start scheming for Roger’s birthday in a month!

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Present from some friends (Or: Kinetic sand

Yesterday I went out to eat with some friends to celebrate getting my NT2 programma II diploma. My taalcoach (language coach – from SamenSpraak) arrived with some gifts. There were three of them. One book about Dutch language (puzzles to help you learn the language), one 2015 daily calendar from Onze Taal (“Our Language”) and a third wrapped gift that was weirdly heavy.

Weird but cool! I got kinetic sand. Check out this YouTube video.

unshaped kinetic sandLooks like ordinary sand in the photo, no? Not quite. The sand particles only stick to themselves, which mans that it moves in clumps rather than separately. It looks really cool. Marco has already started playing with it a bit. Here was his first attempt:

kinetic sand first attempt

And check out this picture to see how it moves together:

kinetic sand movement properties

 

Note the pictures above show only half of the sand we were given; it was easier to keep the amount smaller to test what it looks like.

And finally, an image from the official website:

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Birthdays (Or: Flowers, balloons and key lime pie)

Over the weekend we had a birthday party for Marco (slightly delayed since some of our friends were out of the country). Since it was his 40th I decided to be slightly evil and buy some themed balloons. “Keep calm — you’re only 40” balloons, to be precise.

Keep calm youre only 40 balloons

Very colorful – not quite the rainbow I was going for, but it works. One of the guests also dropped off flowers…

flowers for Marcos birthday

Marco decided to show off his creative baking side by making key lime pie using Keebler graham cracker crust (recipe here).

key lime pie with Captain America shield

And of course he added his own touch by freezing some of the raspberry syrup mix into Captain America shield molds. Yum. And crazy…

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