Marco&Niki

Up, up and away (Or: The Art of DC comics exhibition in Groningen)

While in Groningen Marco and I also visited the Art of DC comics exhibition (official website in English) at Forum Groningen. The forum is a multipurpose building which includes exhibition space, a cinema, a library, a café and more. It’s not a good place if you’re afraid of heights, though. It has about 7-8 floors and lots of escalators. And of course the escalators aren’t on top of each other, so when you’re on floor 5 going to floor 6, there’s 5 floors of nothingness directly below you. Hmph. You can get an idea of what I mean by checking this link (alamy.com, it’s an image bank site).

Here are some pictures of the costumes. You can see the difference in suits as the years pass – at first quite basic, and then more intricate suits as the years go by (actually, this image doesn’t even show the first superman suit they had on display).

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Oasis in the city centre (Or: Prinsentuin in Groningen)

Marco and I celebrated our wedding anniversary (19 September) a bit early this year by taking a trip to the north of The Netherlands to visit a city called Groningen. It was a pretty far journey by Dutch standards (2 hours and 40 minutes by train) although by American standards it could be considered a daily commute…?

One of the highlights of the visit was the Prinsentuin in the northern part of the city centre.

This garden was created in 1626 and includes a rose garden, herb garden and “berceaus” (a sort of tree tunnel where trees line both sides and are allowed to grow into each other, creating a tunnel).

Those tunnels are very handy when it begins to rain unexpectedly! If you were hiding in the tunnel you could (mostly) stay dry. This part of the garden gave me Secret Garden vibes (English Wikipedia).

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Not yet 40 (Or: Happy birthday to me)

Marco and I just celebrated my birthday with a small cozy session of gourmetten for dinner. (Small meats and veggies cooked on a mini grill at the table, see other posts about this topic.) Next year will be the big 4-0, but this year I will happily settle for the slightly smaller 3-9.

Here is a look at the birthday card and present my father-in-law and his wife made for me!

The joke present is on the left. Can you guess what it means if you don’t speak Dutch? I will give you a hint. “Leeftijd = age”.

No? It basically means, in less polite terms, “who gives a crap about your age”. Hence the emoji and toilet roll, haha. The card is on the right. As usual, another beautiful handmade card from them.

Until next year!

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Street food delights (Or: Umami restaurant in The Hague)

Marco and I decided to visit Umami, a Chinese restaurant in the city centre. We had looked at the menu a few years ago, but it seems like they have added a street food option since then. The only unexpected thing was that even though we were able to make a reservation for 15:00, when we got their the hostess seemed surprised and said that the kitchen closes between 15:30-16:00. (Why does the website let you make reservations for that time slot then?)

But in the end it wasn’t really a problem as Marco and I had stared at the menu in advance and had a general sense of what we wanted to sample already. The only difference was that we ordered everything at once, whereas we were hoping to order a bit, see how full we were, and then order a bit more if needed.

The snack attack platter, comprised mostly of croquette/bitterballen type snacks, plus 4 spring rolls. The croquettes are filled with meat paste or ragu. The quality of these snacks can differ greatly based on the restaurant you are at, but luckily upscale dining restaurants use high quality meat. In this case the croquettes were green curry, chicken satay, shrimp, duck and rendang. But as they say you also eat with your eyes – the photo above just begs to be eaten (and to be photographed).

Above are two bao buns. In the foreground is chicken thigh and in the background is beef. A bit messy (especially the beef which leaked everywhere) but still quite tasty.

And finally, sandwiches. In the foreground, chicken thigh and in the background duck. We actually only had a half each, taking the other half home for later.

It was a great experience. We do plan on going back to sample some other stuff later (and perhaps the actual lunch or dinner menu, versus the street food menu). If you like good food that is Instagram worthy than this is the place for you.

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Looking up (Or: Our new Christmas tree)

Our old Hema tree lasted for 9 years before we retired it last year. Actually, going to Hema to pick it up was our first stop after I moved to The Netherlands – I arrived on 18 December and on 19 December we picked up the tree at the local Hema store.

We have upgraded to a slightly taller tree (so we had to rearrange a few things and place it somewhere else). This tree comes in three parts and is pre-lit. Unfortunately we could only find a pre-lit tree with warm white lights, not the colored lights that most American trees have. But otherwise it was a nice purchase. A bit more annoying to set up then we expected, but we will be old pros by next year.

🎄 Merry Christmas and happy holidays! 🎄

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Hotel Jakarta (Or: Celebrating our wedding anniversary in Amsterdam)

Marco and I celebrated our wedding anniversary over the weekend. We booked two nights at the hotel Jakarta in Amsterdam:

It is a lovely 4 star hotel a few kilometers from Central Station. It is walkable, although after the initial walk we decided to take tram 26 back and forth (2 stops). As you can tell, most rooms had a balcony, which was definitely one of the highlights for me. I sunned outside for almost an hour the first day. Even the floor was nice and warm. It turned out to be a good choice, since there was definitely less sun on the second day.

In the distance you can see the Jan Schaeferbrug (bridge). It has quite an interesting design. You can read about it over on Wikipedia in Dutch (link). It has stairs on either side of the bridge and either side of the river, and a sloped ramp for pedestrians and cyclists on 3 out of the 4 sides. The 4th side doesn’t have a ramp, only stairs, since the construction literally goes through an old monument building, the Pakhuis de Zwijger (Dutch Wikipedia). You can also see more photos at bruggenvanamsterdam.nl (Bridges of Amsterdam).

Here is the bridge at night. The photo credit goes to Marco. His night photos are always better than mine! Although the photo makes the lighting look even more gorgeous than it was in real life.

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I’m two in corona years (Or: Birthday time)

I’m now officially two years old.

(in corona years, of course)

Today’s my birthday. At least this year and last year I have a good excuse for not knowing what I want, since official birthday parties are out and non-essential stores are closed. Let’s ignore online shopping for this excuse. I have definitely reached the age where I am okay with not knowing what I want. Especially since my birthday falls on a Tuesday and that is not an ideal time to take off work or having a big celebration. But I received some nice cards and a few small presents from friends and family which I enjoyed going through.

To give you an idea of how today went: last week I told Marco that I was excited to choose something a bit less healthy for my birthday meal (think something American like a deluxe hamburger and fries, nachos, chili cooked in a slow cooker, or similar). And then yesterday and today I promptly forgot about it. I was in meetings most of the afternoon so I suggested something easy (but still tasty): tomato soup and a tosti, a ham and cheese sandwich with a fancy name. Still tasty, but not extragent birthday material.

Marco was however on top of his game, surprising me a small apple crumble pie from Albert Heijn, my favorite:

It’s my favorite because you get a bit of powdered sugar on top but it’s not too thick or messy, so not too filling. And that’s whipped cream on the side, slightly deflated since I didn’t take a picture right away. (I had to make the required cup of coffee first. It’s required.)

Check out this homemade card from Marco’s dad and his wife (best described as “beautiful” and “clever”!):

This is a birthday card on steroids. And what’s best is you can open it up:

The card stays in that position since you can rest it against the white rose. I also like the 3D element with the butterfly wings. I’m always amazed by the creations I get from them.

Here’s hoping I don’t turn 3 in corona years!

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Guardians of the Christmas tree (Or: A reindeer and a bear)

Here is our Christmas tree this year, the presents guarded by a reindeer and a bear:

Merry (second day of) Christmas, everyone!

(The stuffed bear and the stuffed reindeer were bought at Xenos.)

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Merry Christmas (Or: Stocking stuffers)

Merry Christmas, everyone! After a few videochats with family we are currently baking a pumpkin pie. The house smells really nice right now, as you might expect…

Here is my first Christmas gift from Marco – a stocking stuffer! Cute little Christmas themed socks, perfect for keeping my feet warm during the day. This has become more important since we started working from home.

And here is a look at the back of the stocks (the glitter part says Merry Christmas):

I wonder if I will start leaving glitter footprints with every step?

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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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