Posts Tagged With: Birthdays

Videochats (Or: Electronic birthday cake)

Yesterday I had a videochat with my parents to celebrate my birthday. Imagine my surprise when the videochat connected and I saw this cake:

German chocolate birthday cake

German chocolate birthday cake!

That’s right. They bought a cake for me, even though I was in a different country! I then got treated to “Happy Birthday” from my parents, all the way across the ocean. 🙂

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Awwww (Or: birthdays and romance)

From Marco. 🙂


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Popcatepetl (Or: Mexican restuarant in The Hague)

Yesterday I went with Marco’s mother for her birthday to Popcatepetl (nickname Popo, since they are smart enough to realize no sane person can pronounce that). I first blogged about the restaurant last year, but it seems like the service has been getting worse since then. This is my third time there since I have moved to the Netherlands and usually the problem is the service.

Granted, it was kind of busy for a Tuesday night and we chose to sit outside on the patio (with the ants, but that’s another story!) but it was still a bit too annoying for us. For instance, a couple came in about 5 minutes after us, and managed to get their food before we even ordered. Yeesh! The only thing we didn’t have to flag someone down for was the drinks when we first arrived. Total time at the restaurant was about 2 hours, 15 minutes, and we didn’t wait too long after finishing the meal to ask for the check.

The food was decent, though. Not spectacular, but decent. I had the nachos with chicken and she had the “Popcatepetl ensalada”, with a lot of different items: salad, bacon, chicken, kidney beans, olives, corn, avocado, a filled jalapeño pepper and some paprika.

chicken nachos at Popo in The Hague

chicken nachos (chicken is hidden in the middle, but there was enough)

Popocatepetl Ensalada at Popo in The Hague

Popocatepetl Ensalada

We both had a lot of leftover items on our plates that we had no interest in eating, unfortunately.

Categories: Food | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Adventures (Or: Hair salons, libraries, and birthdays)

So it has been a cool last few days. Today’s Friday! And tomorrow is my birthday with some nice things planned for the day. 30th birthday to be exact. I’ll definitely miss my 20s. But I do already feel older when I have to get up or move quickly. ;p

Yesterday around lunch time I went to the Brainwash hair salon in Leyweg to get my hair cut. My bangs (pony in Dutch!) were definitely too long and getting in the way. The wait was a bit long, but for a price of only €16.50 it was worth it. I didn’t speak a word of English while I was there (a new personal record!), although there were a few sentences the stylist said where I did not understand. nod and smile = the life of an expat.

Today I went to the library as my books were due on Monday and I didn’t want to renew them again. I figured I had them long enough as is. It was a  book with 800 words to study and a book about Dutch word order (sadly – not as good as I hoped as I knew most of it already but still have problems with that grammar area).

But anyway. This meant using the book return system for the first time. I knew where to take them, but I wasn’t sure how to use it. Basically you walk up to it and put in your item (Let op! Één item per keer – caution, one item at a time) on the conveyor belt inside. Before you put the item on the belt, the area is lit from above by a green light. Once you put in the item, a wall of plastic descends and the light changes to red. (Yes, I wasn’t paying 100% attention and tried to put in the 2nd item too quickly, but it only hit the wall of plastic). The items you return are automatically scanned and displayed on the computer screen above.

That’s where I ran in trouble – I stood there for a second waiting for it to do something else or acknowledge I was done. One of the workers came over and kept saying something (in Dutch of course) about ‘the receipt’. I was a bit confused, but it’s hard to remember exactly what he said. I understood the first few lines (press the receipt button) but not why I had to do so. He said some more stuff in Dutch and I felt pretty lost. But on the second try he used different vocabulary and it got through to my brain. You HAVE to ask for the receipt, but if you don’t want it you put it in the mini trash basket on the left. The person after you will get your items on their receipt if you don’t (=the transaction only ends when you print it). “Oohhh, dankuwel, ik begrip je!” (Oh, thank you very much, I understand you!)

After that, I went upstairs to find another book or two and study some Dutch. I found a nice book with present perfect/past exercises (perfectum/imperfectum) which I decided to check out after doing some exercises in it. Checkout computer (fully automated):

Checkout computer at The Hague library

Another cool service. The screen basically just says to place the material on the desk. It will automatically scan it from beneath. After that, it asks you to scan your card, and then it prints your receipt when you’re done (automatically this time!).

So, a fun day (or two) at the hair salon and the library. Who would have thought!

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19th day (Or: Hot chocolate and birthdays)

Last night Marco and I made hot chocolate. But not just ANY hot chocolate, nope! Friday night hot chocolate!

a cup of hot chocolate

First off, you have the cup, an awesome little Christmas present. Inside the drink is hot chocolate (of course), Bailey’s liquor, a large marshmallow torn into small bits, and a peppermint candy cane for flavorful stirring. On the side you have a stroopwafel (sorry to make you drool, Mom). And then an awesome little ceramic spoon on the side.


Speaking of Mom, today is her birthday.

Happy birthday, Mom!


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Birthdays (Or: Black markers and vanilla cakes)

Fun fact: 6 years ago yesterday Marco and I met in person for the first time. Oct 19, 2006. We met at UberCon, a gaming convention in the northeast.

In Spring 2007, I went to my third ever UberCon. It was run by the owner of Avatar MUD, the game I have played since I was 14 (yeesh! more than half my life).

At this convention Marco gave me a tattoo, in permanent black marker:

Of course the “tattoo” washed out in about 4-5 days. Thankfully I had shirt sleeves that were long enough to cover it, as back then I worked in the children’s department of a library.

A discerning eye might realize that I was wearing a Colts football jersey at the time. That was because I lost a bet with a friend — I think the Bears lost to the Colts. So yeah, I had to wear the jersey the whole day!

The convention was held the same weekend as my birthday, so I also had a surprise birthday party with a vanilla cake:


Categories: Marco&Niki | Tags: | 1 Comment

Birthday cards (Or: Marco’s viewpoint)

As Niki mentioned she sent me 13 cards in the past few weeks.
It’s hard to explain why that’s so cool.
What I mean is, on one hand it’s sort of cliche to send cards.
But that is probably what makes it so cool.
And then there’s the factor that she didn’t just send one card.
No, she kept a steady stream going. And that’s what makes it awesome! 🙂

The backs of each of the cards, showing the numbering system.

I live two floors up, and the mailbox is downstairs.
So often I’d get home, get the mail (leaving the spam in there) and when I saw the card from Niki,
there were only two choices. Either RUSH (needs to be capitalized) up the stairs and read it once inside.
Or..and this was usually the case, I’d rip it open while going upstairs, and at least look it over, big grin on my face.

Often I couldn’t help but chuckle because Niki has the tendency to write a LOT on those cards.
One of them was written with such fine print that I think she managed to fit about a thousand words
on that tiny piece of paper. But for the record. I love it. 🙂

The first 9 cards, non-birthday themed.

I think it took me until card #3 to realize there was a serious pattern developing.
Probably not coincidentally that was the first time I noticed she had numbered the cards.
Of course she denied everything when I brought it up (and sly-ly asked her if I she would be sending more)
It was after card 7 or so that I realized she’d at least keep it up until my birthday.

So last night, during our chat, I actually asked “Do you have any more cards?”
And I got a “There are no more cards in my home” back. Which of course made me laugh.
Since that could mean “I shipped five more this morning…” but we’ll see.
I do know that for the next two-three weeks I’ll sort of eagerly open the mailbox 🙂

It does remind me of the count down I did when NIki came to the Netherlands two years ago.
I created our own little advent calendar. One picture with a number on it a day 🙂
Maybe that’s another blog?

Another thing that I’ve mentioned to her is that now I cannot randomly send a card back.
Though this is 99% a joke, it does feel like a cheap trick to send her one.
Maybe I’ll think of something else soon. Send her a candy-gram or something 🙂

Categories: Marco&Niki | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Birthdays (Or: A flood of cards)

Today is Marco’s birthday! (Well, technically due to the time zone differences it’s already over for him.) But I had some fun with my scheming…

In early June I got the idea to send him lots of cards in advance of his birthday. Someone I knew back in the day mentioned sending cards to a friend of his: one for each of her years (thankfully I think she was only 18-20 years old) to surprise her.

When I first had the idea, I didn’t know how many cards it would end up being. First I went to Shoprite and picked up some cards, with a mix between birthday and non-birthday. That same weekend I went to the mall, and got some more. I ended up with 6 non-birthday cards and 4 birthday cards. About halfway through I went back to Shoprite and supplemented that with another 3 non-birthday cards, for the eventual total of 13. And when I get an idea I try to go all out… each card had both sides filled out with smallish letters to fit more in.

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

Birthdays (Or: Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!)

Tomorrow is the birthday of Marco’s mother, so today Marco and her went out to eat at Sumo, a Japanese restaurant.

But Marco devised a scheme – before she arrived, he and I would start up a videochat, and then surprise her. I will say that when she arrived, it was nice to hear her voice again (off screen), with its Dutch accent and happy nature showing through. He asked her to open up my card. After she read it to herself, he took the card back and repeated what I had said in English, line by line. She translated it into Dutch to show that she understood what I was saying.

Afterwards, at an opportune moment he had me say “Happy birthday, Henny!” as he turned around the laptop to show her my grinning face. Her reaction was predictable – instantly flustered, for whatever reason! 🙂 Probably suddenly having to speak English! It was nice to speak with her again, since it has been almost a year since I seen her (last August). Marco and her stayed at my place last year for her birthday, so it was hard to be an ocean apart this year.

Here was the wrapped gift:

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Categories: Friends&Family | Tags: | 7 Comments

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