Marco&Niki

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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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

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