Marco&Niki

Christmas time (Or: A few of our decorations)

Last weekend Marco and I put up the Christmas tree. (Or more accurately, Marco put up the Christmas tree and I helped. I believe I say that every year…)

And here is a photo of one of my favorite ornaments, from Disneyland Paris. It’s quite possible she has made an appearance in my blog before:

Marco also got a bit creative with the desk lamp. If we have to sit around at home working all day, why not bring a bit of holiday cheer to our work space:

That light has served us well. We actually have three of them – the other two are on our nightstands. We bought them from Ikea in Delft at least 5 or 6 years ago. They are fully flexible and very bright. The perfect light to read (or these days, work) with.

And one article today, from indebuurt.nl in Dutch: Fotoserie: Zo werd 25 jaar geleden het Haagse stadhuis gebouwd. There are nine pages of photos showing the construction of The Hague’s city hall (and library) 25 years ago. The latter pages show the construction of the library, which is pretty cool to see.

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Grand hotel Amrâth Kurhaus (Or: 20 minutes from home)

I have never booked a hotel room only a few days before it was needed, but here we are in corona times. Marco and I celebrated wanted to go somewhere for our wedding anniversary this weekend. We booked the days off work at least a month ago but I was a bit hesitant about choosing where we would go thanks to the weird times we live in.

Things got a bit stranger on Wednesday, when they announced that new regional corona measures for The Hague (among other cities) would be coming. In the end the new measures were that cafés and restaurants are required to close by 01:00 in the morning and they would only be able to serve a maximum of 50 people (inside or outside) instead of 100. No mandatory face masks outside of public transportation yet. I’m not sure that will ever come in this country.

But! Back to our anniversary. Since things were a bit dicey we decided to stay in the area; we booked a room at the 5 star (!) Kurhaus hotel in nearby Scheveningen. I’m glad Marco persuaded me to go for that one.

View of the hotel from the pier

The room itself was unexpectedly modern, but still cool. The view at night was awesome:

The room’s window was double-paned, so we didn’t hear anything from the boulevard unless we opened the window. Speaking of the boulevard, we walked up and down it on Friday and Saturday. You could tell there were less people around, although it might have also been because it was no longer the high season for tourists. At least the restaurant owners on the beach don’t have break down everything for the winter (a one-time rule passed earlier this year to help save costs this year, article in Dutch from omroepwest.nl).

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7 years (Or: Time flies, even in these crazy times)

I can’t believe it has been 7 years since Marco and I were married: 19 September, 2013.

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Thai workshop (Or: First time at FOAM – The Kitchen)

Last week Sunday Marco and I went to FOAM – The Kitchen to attend a Thai cooking workshop. This was the first cooking workshop that I have attended in my life, so I was a bit nervous about how things would go. But it worked out nicely and we had a lot of fun!

Due to the corona measures there were less participants than normal, only 8 this time. Each participant was in charge of one recipe. Marco and I took the okonomiyaki recipe (a small Japanese pancake) and a pineapple with nuts recipe. Check out Marco cooking the okonomiyaki (yum):

The base is cabbage, with shredded carrots, spring onions, sesame seed, flax seed, fresh garlic, fresh ginger and more. It was also my first opportunity using a Magimix machine which shredded the carrots and cabbage in half a second. Crazy!

We also made a pineapple dish, topped with a paste consisting of: walnuts, red peppers, onions, sunflower seeds, tamari (a type of soy sauce, in this case gluten free) and more. The topping made it hearty, so it isn’t quite a dessert.

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Warmth and sun (Or: Cautious wanderings)

Oh, sunny days! (which makes me think of the song “Oh Happy Day” from Sister Act 2 – obligatory YouTube link).

But today’s temperature was about 66F / 19C. Spring is coming. I took a break from work to take a short walk, finding bits of sun while practicing my social distancing responsibly…

I took a photo of the old city hall, where Marco and I were married in September 2013. See the stairs in the lower right? We took some wedding pictures there. I was reminded again of how much taller Marco is than I am, as I had to stand a few stairs above him in the pictures.

Blast from the past (blog post from September 19, 2014 to be exact): Holding hands (Or: A year ago today)

There was another press conference this evening with Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Healthcare Minister Hugo de Jonge. For the most part the message was Hou vol! Or “Keep going! You’re doing great!” With a few exceptions, we managed to use our common sense and stay home over the weekend, only going outside if needed and going out alone, etc.

There was also a reminder that Easter was coming and we needed to celebrate it at home responsibly and not travel throughout the country to visit family. With a similar amount of “You’re doing great! Don’t stop now!” and a reminder that the only way the country can consider relaxing the measures (piece by piece, slowly) is if we all individually and collectively make smart decisions in the near future. You get the idea.

Minister de Jonge also mentioned that the government was looking into two apps to help in the fight against the coronavirus: one app to let you know if you have been in contact with someone who had later been diagnosed with the virus, and another app to help potential patients stay in touch with their doctors. They don’t know if the apps will be compulsory (my guess is no, as people tend to be stubborn around here) and how they will work with regards to privacy and user data.

Further reading on the two apps:

Dutch see apps as key to relaxing lockdown, tracking corona suspects (DutchNews.nl)

Kabinet wil apps voor opsporing en monitoring coranapatiënten (nos.nl)

Kabinet wil app die wijst op contact met besmette landgenoot (ad.nl)

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Graffiti all around (Or: Step in the Arena)

Last month Marco and I visited Eindhoven for a short weekend as a belated anniversary trip. One of the things we saw was an area full of graffiti called “Step in the Arena”.

That’s the name of graffiti festival that has taken place for the last 10 years in the Berenkuil, which translates to bear pit in English. It’s a roundabout for cars, along with a sunken level underneath for bikes and motorcycles. 2019 was the 10th edition.

Here are some of the photos from the 2019 festival’s graffiti:

And finally, a claw crane game:

It was definitely a great spot to visit and one I can recommend (although it was about a 20-25 minute walk to get there).

Categories: Marco&Niki, The Hague | Tags: | 2 Comments

A day out (Or: Hoog Catharijne mall in Utrecht)

A few weeks ago Marco and I went to Utrecht for half a day. It’s about a 45 minute train ride – when the trains ride properly anyway. There were some issues that day, so I think it took about an hour and a half to get there. Opps! It’s a city in the middle of the Netherlands with about 350,000 residents.

The main reason for this trip was to visit the Hoog Catharijne mall, which has probably been under renovation for years. At least it seemed that way. I don’t think it is completely done, but the parts that are done look really good. Check it out:

The area between the mall (pictured) and the station (behind us) is semi-covered by the artistic roof above, although Marco says it doesn’t help 100% when it rains on a windy day. Ha!
Inside the mall – looking down on one of the wings. The pretty big for Dutch standards (about 42,000 square meters) but American malls are generally larger.

And just outside the mall in one of the canals is a piece of art: a whale made of plastic. Of course, a statement on plastic in the oceans.

And a close-up look at the whale from the front:

In the background you can see the mall

It’s a nice day trip, especially when you a combine it with a tour of the older parts of the city (which we did a few years back).

Categories: Marco&Niki, Shopping, Utrecht | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Sweet store displays (Or: Valentine’s Day by Hema)

❤ Happy Valentine’s Day! ❤

Valentine’s Day display at Hema in The Hague

Marco and I exchanged Valentine’s Day gifts this morning. He got me a small bottle of cava (a Spanish sparking wine), a bag of Haribo gummy bears and a chocolate rose. ❤

I got him Winter-in-lov, a chocolate and rooibos tea, with additional spices like cinnamon, ginger and licorice. If you like tea with chocolate notes, I can highly recommend it.

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Making oliebollen with Marco (Or: Yummy!)

We interrupt this blog post to say: Happy birthday, mom!

Here’s a look back at our oliebollen making attempts this year. (Quick recap: oliebollen literally translates to “balls of oil” and are sort of like doughnuts, usually with raisins found inside. They are a traditional New Year’s Eve treat for Dutchies.)

First, a look at the batter. Doesn’t look like much yet! Or it kind of looks like we are making chocolate chip cookies… But it still needs to be allowed to rise for about 45 minutes, too.

the oliebollen batter. We just used a mix from a box (Koopmans brand)

To make the experience a bit easier this year we bought an oliebollentang from Albert Heijn. It’s really just a glorified ice cream scoop. We also tried wetting the scoop in oil between each oliebol. It was still trial and error, but we finally learned the best trick for us was to use a large spoon to grab the batter, and then carefully place it into the oliebollen scoop, and finally put the scoop into the oil, releasing the batter under the oil so that it would come off (a bit) easier.

Time to fry them up! My favorite part is when the oliebollens start flipping on their own. Doesn’t always happen, but sometimes.

This is where I’ll say Marco did most of the work. I was supposed to be keeping time with my iPhone, but I kept forgetting. I did clean the utensils between each use, though!

They are already looking a lot like oliebollen. You only need to keep them in the oil for 3-4 minutes, but they should be flipped once to make sure both sides are evenly cooked.

Yum!

And the finished product, with a fair heaping of powdered sugar on top.

Categories: Food, Holidays, Marco&Niki | Tags: , | 4 Comments

5th wedding anniversary (Or: A trip to Breda)

My oh my, how time flies. It’s been five years since Marco and I got married! This year we went to Breda for a few days. Marco chose the location and hotel secretly. I must say – he chose well!

Breda is a city relatively close to the border with Belgium, with about 180,00 inhabitants. The only times I had been there was to transfer from one train to another, so it was new to me.

We stayed at the lovely Bliss Boutique hotel in the city centre. I can highly recommend it! Marco booked through booking.com, and thus didn’t have a chance to select a specific suite. However, it worked out wonderfully as we were placed in the Long Island suite.

It was perfect for us, as it comes with a separate sitting area (pictured below), an eating area, a king-size bed, a bath and double shower… the list goes on and on. The location was also great, being right next to the Grote Kerk (Church of Our Lady) in the heart of the city.

We also got complimentary prosecco and chocolates upon arrival, a welcome surprise as we hadn’t mentioned anything about it being our anniversary!

Bliss Boutique hotel, Long Island Suite, Breda

sitting area

Window at Bliss Boutique hotel, Long Island Suite, Breda

Yes, there was even a wooden boat hanging from the ceiling. And beautiful windows which let the gorgeous sky in…

While walking to the hotel, we went through Valkenburg park. It was beautiful, and luckily we had gorgeous weather for the mini-trip. We were in Breda from Tuesday to Thursday last week. Thursday was coincidentally the last day of summer-like weather in the Netherlands. Friday the weather suddenly changed and brought cold, wind and rain. We didn’t even need our jackets while in Breda. So much good luck there!

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