I am one of the lucky folks who should be celebrating a birthday during these corona times. Officially I’ve said I’ll celebrate it later in the summer (I mean come on: when will I ever have a chance to celebrate my birthday in the summer again? Who could pass up that opportunity?).
On Friday I received an email from my workplace’s HR department, wishing me a happy birthday and telling me they would be delivering cupcakes on Saturday (yesterday).
The delivery itself was anti-climatic but still tinged by the coronavirus: Someone rang the doorbell. I open the door. The box of cupcakes have been carefully left on the doormat, with the deliveree standing at the edge of the stairs at a safe distance. She points to the box, we exchange the standard pleasantries, and then she is gone again.
Here’s a photo of the birthday card that Marco received from his dad and his dad’s wife:
First off, check out the birthday card on the right. As you see it folds open to display an oven, complete with utensils and condiments on each side. And pizza!
On the left we have a glass of beer. Or do we? It’s actually made of hair gel (the yellow bubbly stuff) and a layer of styrofoam for the ‘foam’. The only mistake we made was taking to long to take it apart, since the black plastic ladder decided to react to the hair gel and melt a bit… Opps! But still, really cool. And it’s not the first birthday card they made for us. Or check out this other birthday card and this Christmas card.
Work is insanely busy these days! But here is a photo of:
- Coffee! Yum.
- Brownie. Handmade by Marco.
- Vanilla ice cream. Also handmade by Marco!
That’s right – guess who got an ice cream machine for his birthday! Lekker!
Yesterday we celebrated Marco’s birthday at Little V, a Vietnamese restaurant. This was our first time going to Little V for lunch and it did not disappoint. I ordered an ‘eenpansgerecht’ or ‘let’s throw everything into one dish for ya’, with beef and chicken.
My drink was an awesome looking (and tasting) lemonade made of rose water.
And as a blog post bonus… a week ago I made lemon cookies! That is of note because I don’t really do the baking in the house. But this time I chose the recipe, did most of the work, and Marco was my assistant! (For the first time ever.)
The recipe was really good and I followed it exactly. Next time I would probably use less sugar, but I don’t have the sweet tooth I used to have so there is that. They were awesomely chewy (honest to goodness chewy!) and the lemon favor shined through perfectly.
See the recipe at Oh My Foodness (in Dutch) – including a very helpful video for people who don’t ever bake. Like me. See also her general recipe list.
(Public service announcements, or PSAs. Basically messages that are freely distributed to the public because they are in their best interest.)
Trams rule! I never realized this while growing up in the US because there wasn’t much public transportation around. Or when there was, it was just buses, and I am not as big a fan of those.
Here’s the birthday card Roger made for me. Front cover – a look at the Avenio trams, the newest model. Some of the tram lines have started to use them (2 and 11) with 1, 9 and 17 next. You can just make out the top of the tram where he edited the sign to say “Niki’s birthday”.
Inside you can see a map of The Hague (at the very bottom), and then a tram service schedule on the left side, with a picture of an older, yellow tram sign you would find at a stop on the right. Roger even added a picture of gourmetten in the middle since that’s what we ate on my birthday. Finally, in the middle you have a look at the tram lines throughout The Hague.
And a look at the two books that I currently have checked out from the library:
The larger book is a photographic history of trams in The Hague since 1945 (until 2011). The smaller one is a non-fiction book written by a journalist who spent a year working as a tram conductor in Amsterdam.
I love trams. No interest whatsoever in driving them, but I love reading the latest news. Try htmfoto.net or HaagsOVforum.nl. The first one includes way more than just tram stuff, or even HTM stuff. There’s a lot of old pictures of the city to lose yourself in.
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:
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!
Yesterday was my birthday. Fun times were had all around, between sharing a beer with Marco after work (we went to the Plein) to doing gourmetten with Roger that night.
I will have a few other photos later, but for now check out what Marco did:
In the morning I woke up to sticky notes everywhere. My favorite hiding place was on the toilet paper roll (not visible until you use it) and in my jacket sleeve, so that when I put my jacket on it popped out. There are 34 notes in all — numbered, thankfully — which read:
“Mijn lieve Niki, weet je dat het jouw drie-en-dertigste verjaardag is vandaag? Ik ben blij dat wij dat samen vieren want ik hou echt heel veel van jou! Je rare man – Marco (34 alvast voor het jaar dat nu begint).”
“My lovely Niki, do you know that it is your 33rd birthday today? I am happy that we can celebrate it together because I love you very much! Your silly husband – Marco (34 in advance for the year that now begins).”
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:
It’s a box. Go on, open it. I dare you.
(When you open it the four sides fall outward.) Echt gaaf, zeg!
They 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!
A month after Marco, Roger also turns 40. We celebrated the event by going to Paraplu in The Hague – the first time for me. As usual, I had the kipsaté (chicken on a skewer with peanut sauce). Yum! Also the first time I ever had kroepoek (the white disks) paired with peanuts and peanut shavings directly on top.
As a surprise, a family member had ordered a birthday dessert for Roger (and the table). Quite spectacular:
Good times en lekker eten!
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.
Very colorful – not quite the rainbow I was going for, but it works. One of the guests also dropped off flowers…
Marco decided to show off his creative baking side by making key lime pie using Keebler graham cracker crust (recipe here).
And of course he added his own touch by freezing some of the raspberry syrup mix into Captain America shield molds. Yum. And crazy…