Today marks 10 years in the Netherlands! Wow. I almost can’t believe it. Although maybe that sounds a bit too negative – I do love living here and don’t miss living in the States.
Here was my post at 5 years. I didn’t bake cookies this time for my coworkers like I did last year (delicious, soft, chewy lemon cookies. Yum.) Maybe next time. A lot of coworkers choose to work remotely and only come in once a week, so it can be hard to know when there are enough coworkers around to share in the sweets.
I have visited the Royal Christmas Fair a few times this year already though (just like 2017). Once with Marco right when it opened and once with coworkers. The fair runs through 22 December this year and sells a mix of crafts (like nativity scenes, candles, ornaments) and food (like sausages, raclette. crepes). Oh and also some very tasty mulled wine. Although we call it by its German name, glühwein.
Above: a look at some of the nativity scenes for sale at one of the stands.
In other news, here is the most random thing that happend today: Marco and I were flipping through the channels this afternoon and we came across an infomercial selling very sharp kitchen knives. Strangely enough the original presenters were speaking English, but it was dubbed in German and for good measure subtitled in Dutch. It was a bit hard to watch. Normally you would just get the original programming, English speech and all, with Dutch subtitles underneath. We don’t dub anything in this country.
Here is a look at the Christmas tree at Bijenkorf’s department store this year:
And of course, I’m not that big a fan of heights (this Christmas tree is about 3-4 floors high), hence the railing in the middle. That was about the closest that I wanted to get when photographing it.
Bijenkorf’s Christmas tree in 2021 (not that different from this year’s really)
Bijenkorf’s Christmas tree in 2019
Bijenkorf’s Christmas tree in 2018
…and back in 2015, with more decorations than it has now. It looks like they have scaled back in recent years.
I was recently at Albert Heijn doing some grocery shopping. I swear, you almost don’t need a calendar when you walk in there — you can easily tell it is after 5 December (Sinterklaas) because the first ingredients for making oliebollen (a donut-like treat frequently eaten on New Year’s Eve) have started to appear.
At the top of the display you have powdered sugar in the blue and white cans, oliebollen mix in the middle in the yellow and orange boxes, and whipped cream on the far right. Although they haven’t quite set up the tower of sugary goodness that they had last year. Yet.
I am also happy to report that my favorite Christmas cookies are back at Albert Heijn. I picked up a pack for home and a pack for my coworkers the first day they were stocked. It’s a nice large Christmas cookie (in the shape of a wreath) dipped in dark chocolate and covered in red and green sprinkles.
TK Maxx is a European apparels and home fashion store. And if you are American and wondering if this is the same company as TJ Maxx, why yes, yes it is.
This company thinks it is Christmas already:
Don’t get me wrong: I don’t mind at all. I just find it a bit funny. And by the way, all of the things you see on the racks in the picture above are Christmas soap dispensers. Including the dog with the red sweater on the second highest shelf.
Maybe we skip straight ahead to Christmas in this country because Halloween isn’t that big here and Thanksgiving doesn’t exist. Although the Netherlands does have the Sinterklaas holiday (English Wikipedia) on 5 December, so who knows.
I have to admit these are cute: little wooden sleighs with a few packages and a mini Christmas tree. However, the packages must have been little mini bricks as the decoration was way heavier than I expected when I picked it up.
Anyone else spotting Christmas decorations popping up in stores?
Categories: Holidays, Shopping
| Tags: Christmas |
For New Year’s Eve, Marco and I spent the night at Roger’s as we always like to do. This time we had some guests over at the dinner table:
That’s right – a stuffed teddy bear and reindeer decided to pay us a visit in their Christmas best.
And not to be forgotten, the oliebollen-themed napkins that they were sharing. New Year’s Eve gourmetten (link to iamexpat.nl in English) does get a bit messy at times…
Check out this Christmas tree made of bread rolls:
It is as tasty as it looks. It is actually bake-off bread – you buy it at Albert Heijn and finish baking it in the oven. Perfect toppings include butter, peanut butter, speculaas paste (Wikipedia), and/or hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles). If you’re Dutch you would add a layer of butter and then the hagelslag sprinkles, but luckily I am not Dutch so I am exempt.
We also split a mini kerststol (Wikipedia) between us, a sort of sugary Christmas bread with almond paste inside. And it was one of those rare mornings where I went and made a second cup of coffee… Good times!
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! 🎄
Marco took a photo of the Christmas tree in front of the Mauritshuis museum here in The Hague (official website in English). Since we are in a lockdown again, the museum is promoting their virtual museum, aptly called the Gigapixel museum. The museum is most known for having Vermeer’s The Girl with the Pearl Earring on display. Aka room 15, floor 2, in the lower right corner of the Gigapixel museum.
Here’s hoping for a quick reopening in 2022!
Earlier this month I took a photo of Christmas decorations at a local homeware store called Casa (Dutch website). This was of course before the lockdown started and stores were closed, although pickup and delivery are still allowed.
I like the toy in the front, of an pendulum-based amusement ride. It reminds me of the Zipper ride (English Wikipedia) which is an even crazier design where your individual carriage also flipped while the ride spins. When I was just a kid, my mom would occasionally go on the Zipper when the carnival was in town (sometimes with my cousin Roxanne, I think?). I was always pretty shocked by this, as I never wanted to go anywhere near the contraption. I liked watching others go on it, though. From a safe distance. At some point as I grew up Mom stopped going on it, as it can get pretty painful to ride it of course. But whenever I see a ride like that I always think of her riding it.
As a kid my biggest accomplishment was riding the Tower of Terror. Twice. I was pretty proud of that. But I did skip on the (admittedly wimpy) Thunder Mountain roller coaster, until years later when Marco and I went on it. The first time around I kept my eyes tightly shut and kept whispering “No no no”. Oh, and I watched a few YouTube videos to help me get a sense of where all the turns would be before getting on it. Things went much better after that first time and I decided it was safe to actually look around on the second ride. Heh.
Here is a quick look at the Christmas decorations at Bijenkorf, a high-end store here in The Hague. They are also the store with the beautiful Christmas window displays each year; see also this year’s post about those.
First off, the very tall Christmas tree (spanning about 4 floors) which changes every year. They usually put it up before Sinterklaas and decorate it for that December 5 holiday first, but I didn’t get any pictures of those decorations this year. Also, sorry about the not getting closer to take the photo :), but times like this bring out my slight fear of heights!
Random Christmas table display.
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