Saturday, August 31, 2013

Private property

last time me and tim were in new york, we saw this little sign on the sidewalk for the very first time. it was somewhere around times square and this is what it says; private property. permission to cross revocable at will. i had never seen such signs before and thought it was just a joke. but some googling told me that they are all around new york (and other cities too? i havent found that), and are for real! they are indicating the property line of the building, so the part of the sidewalk that belongs to the building... hahaha.
today we finally got to painting the bedroom. that was quite some work. but at least the ceiling is purple now and the walls are white....

Thursday, August 29, 2013

MY bike!!!

i showed you the I Amsterdam sculpture already... but this photo also has my bike on it. its one of the few photos with my bike in amsterdam, and there wont be any more as my bike was stolen this week.... :(( buhuhuhuhuh. all those years i lived in utrecht i never had my bike stolen, while i parked it everywhere. i was however always careful to lock it to something you cannot move (like one of the many bridges or a streetlight, sometimes hard to find, as all dutch cities are literally flooded with bikes attached to things that cannot move), and then i used an additional lock to attach my front wheel to my frame (and if possible, would lock that also to something that cannot move). 
i didnt yet have the second lock since i live in amsterdam. but i just went out for a bit, parked my bike at the subway station, locked it with the simple bike lock that every bike has and an additional one attached to the bridge. when back, that lock was still hanging there, but my bike was nowhere to be found.... :( buhuhuhuhuhuh. i was so happy with the pink basket on the front (i had found it at a trash receptacle, perfect for my american water bottle), and look at the saddle bags!! this was MY bike and someone thought they could just take it and did that..... in broad daylight!! :(((( in the days since i have been looking everywhere to see if if my bike is standing around, but ofcourse it isnt. i looked on the internet if someone offered it for sale (thats how someone recently found her bike, and the thief, back), but no luck of course.... 
so... if you have seen this bike. its MINE. if you took it, bring it back, its not yours!! according to the internet, there are approximately 18 million bikes in the netherlands (1.1 bikes per inhabitant), and many of them are stolen each year. the exact number is hard to determine, as most people dont even file a report. i got a new one already... as well as 2 big locks.....

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Grand central

this was back in may, when we were in new york with the most awful weather... the first day it more or less rained non-stop! i guess thats why there were many (at least 4 when we were there) wedding shoots going on inside grand central terminal. the wedding group above was definitely the most interesting.
since a week or so i somehow got into the habit of watching "say yes to the dress". its about brides-to-be that are looking for a wedding dress in some fancy store in new york. to me its amazing what they are willing to spend on a dress; most dresses are not below 1500 dollars, and many are looking for dresses for say 5000 dollars!! (or even more...). i can only watch it when tim is not around, as he cant stand even the sound of all the screaming brides and bridesmaids and mothers and mothers in law.... haha.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Climbing allowed

this is the I Amsterdam sculpture in amsterdam (actually, there are 3, one at the museumplein, one at the airport and the one above, which apparently changes location every now and then. here its in amsterdam north. the entire sign says "i amsterdam", with the i am in red. climbing is optional. a small note on the side of the sculpture actually says that climbing is at your own risk and that its not made for that, but everyone does it anyways. not like similarly large sculptures in the US, where climbing is not allowed and where that is strictly enforced (like with this sculpture that was really a huge climbing temptation for many).
the girl crawling around on the top had some trouble getting off the sculpture again, but not before her mom had taken several pics!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Last March

in march we were in death valley, california, and now im back in amsterdam since a while already. its still  so weird! i really miss these sceneries and the relative ease with which we were able to visit all this beauty.... now im back to good old (and yes, pretty, but pretty in such a very, very different way) holland, and not taking that many photos... also, im skipping days with posting for whatever reason.... (i guess a combination of laziness and lack of new photos). im still not entirely out of the "getting-used-to-be-back-home-again-phase", i guess.... i miss the endless empty roads in the us, and the hours you could drive seeing extremes in landscapes. in the netherlands you are out of the country within 3 hours!! (thats why the speed limit on most highways in 100km/hr, otherwise you would be out of the country even faster).
here in death valley we had parked the car down the little hill, and walked up under the sizzling hot sun. we did it because everyone else did it, eager not to miss anything. i think it was the ladies you see here in the front that said to us when passing "well, that was a total waste of our efforts!". that was just so weird to me! i thought it was pretty, and even in the hot sun its nice to be out and not seeing everything just from the car....

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

In Amsterdam....

... the manhole covers are also labeled with the name of the city you are in... just like in boston where i thought that was just so odd...:) "weegels" is the company making these covers, and they are located in "weert", a city in the south of the netherlands. and "DWR" is the company taking care of whats going on underneath; the sewer and water etc....
then there are my blue suede shoes and my (currently favorite) pink bag! i havent yet unpacked all my shoes, as there is no space to store them! we put 2 shoe racks just outside of the front door, but its not enough.... (and thats just a small selection of my shoes (and a few of tim's)).

Monday, August 19, 2013

My bread!!

i tried baking sourdough bread a bit since i am back in the netherlands, but the first time was a total disaster (too much water for the flours here, they take up much less water!! so i had some weird, huge flat disk instead of a bread). then i just made simple breads with commercial yeast (and bought croissants, haha), but last week with all our stuff from the USA also my dutch oven arrived, that you can see here in the back (i got it from tim for my birthday last year), so it was really time for baking bread!! to get a nice bread you need to create some steam in the oven. this is to keep the dough moist and supple so that it can rise in the oven as much as possible (the cracks you see here were just cuts i made in the dough before putting it in the oven, then the yeast makes the bread rise and the cuts bloom open). to create steam you can put a tray of hot water underneath the loaf, but the easiest is actually just throwing the bread into the dutch oven. the enclosed compartment creates a steamy environment and without any effort the bread does what it should..... jaaajj!! i was so happy when they came out of the oven. the only frustration is that the ovens here are so very tiny... :( in the usa i could bake 2 loafs at the same time, but here only one fits, grrrrrr... the oven being so tiny also made it quite a hassle to get the hot pot in and out of the oven, i of course managed to burn my hand (luckily not too bad).
i just looked up why a dutch oven is called a dutch oven, and that was quite interesting! in the late 17th century, the dutch were just very good at making these pots. the brits liked them, imported them and called them dutch ovens. then the immigrants brought them to the us, and the name stayed. the settlers just loved the durability and versatility of the pots, and they became so valuable that people often put in their will what was to happen with their dutch ovens after their death!! wikipedia also tells me that the dutch oven is the official state cooking pot of texas, utah and arkansas... whatever that may mean...
ah, and dont you love our "delfts blue" tiles? i think they are amaaaazing! very fake ofcourse, just adhesive tile stickers that i bought somewhere on sale, but i think they instantly made our kitchen look so much better!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Big blue

although several of the artworks of the "fuck off 2" exhibit were not worth watching (they merely seemed made to provoke, but not in a sophisticated way, not making you think about china at all!!), a few things i did like. i liked the above "the big blue". it was one wall, covered with plastic bags filled with a blue liquid (5 tons of it!!), and it just looked like the ocean! i had a quite irresistible urge to stick a needle in those bags, but i didnt... (some were already a bit leaky though).
the liquid actually is some sort of toilet detergent used in china, named "toilet treasure". the artist wanted to make you think about industrialization, and how something resembling the sea and/or the ocean is actually just made of... something you flush down the toilet.
this afternoon we went to a food & vintage market not too far from our place. but there was too much food, and no vintage! the stuff they did try to sell was just old crap displayed in a fancy way so that they could ask ridiculous amounts of money, just by labeling it "vintage". all the hipsters running around probably just loved it, but it made me and tim miss "our" thrift store close to our apartment in the usa...! luckily we still have several of our usa-shipped boxes to unpack with some real vintage finds for just a small price... (but first we need to make some space here! and get some cupboards etc...)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Groninger museum

last week we were tourists in our own country; we went to the north of the netherlands, to the city of groningen. its almost 2.5 hours by train from amsterdam. i found some kind of cheap(er) deal with train tickets and 1 night at a hotel. as the dutch say, groningen is in "het hoge noorden" (high up in the north of the country), so a little girl in the train asked her mom why the train was still on flat terrain, and not going upwards to get to groningen.... "noo, thats just a way of saying! the netherlands is entirely flat...!" "but you said we were going to the extreme north!" 
close to the train station is the museum of groningen, in a very modern looking building. i dont know if i really liked the outside, but i liked the colorful walls on the inside, as you can see here. this was an exhibit curated by ai weiwei and 2 others, named "fuck off".it shows art from different contemporary chinese artists, questioning and contemplating more or less everything in china today. at the entrance was a warning that some of the art could be perceived as "shocking". and some of it was shocking indeed. to give you just one example; one artist decided to get himself cut. i think the "art" was called "one meter of democracy". friends he had invited could vote whether he would have himself cut open or not, and the majority voted yes. so a cut was made over 1 meter of his body, quite deep. and pictures were shown from all steps of the process (the voting, the cutting, the actual cut, sewing it up again). it was not fun to watch and for me there was no message other than that the "artist" must have been crazy (as well as the "doctor" allowing this to happen). and like that there were many more pieces that i dont even want to describe to you!
currently, tim is working night shifts and thus has to sleep during the day. its weird as he leaves in the evening, and comes back when i just get out of bed again. it also made me realize i am much less quiet when going about the house than i thought... :)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Dutch landscape

ooohh... how different is the dutch landscape from the american (or well, some parts of texas were rather flat as well and actually reminded me of the netherlands)... this we saw last weekend from the moving train (thats why the trees in the front are not sharp). so flat... endless green fields and some trees perfectly aligned along a road. (although endless.... soon enough you are again in a crowded city). only the cows are missing from this pic! :)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

1700 bridges..

amsterdam has some 1700 bridges, many of them very old and cute, but i managed to picture a boring one!! the first bridge, and still standing, was built in the 14th century (which obviously isnt the one above), so there has been some time to get to over 1700 of them.
when it was so hot, the past weeks (now it has cooled down a bit, and every now and then we have some rain showers, but all in all its still pleasant), the bridges had some trouble. they need to open to let boats pass, but when temperatures rise over 25C (77F), this can give rise to some serious trouble; once open they cant close anymore, or vice versa, which can cause serious damage to those (historic) bridges. so they need to be kept cool with water as you can see above. however... at some point it was just so hot that some of the bridges expanded anyways, and cooling with water did not help. as a result, the bridges were just kept closed (too bad for the boats wanting to pass!).

Monday, August 12, 2013

Our stuff.....

.... did indeed arrive today!! jaaaajjj!! i kept waking up this morning, and every time i thought the movers were somehow standing in front of our door (one time i even imagined them saying something in english... at 5 or 6 this morning). but... they called to let us know they would be arriving in 1.5 hours (they came from the UK). of course they rang the wrong doorbell (we live at the 4th floor but the house number is 3, but next to the bell it says 4 and then tim made a note saying its 3, and so everyone always rings at our neighbor, who is not too happy about that). compared to the real city center of amsterdam, the streets here are not too tiny. but they are one-way, and apparently too small for the gigantic moving truck (they had stuff from others as well), so they parked on the main street. buuuhhhh, i really looked forward to seeing the huge truck coming into the street so that i could take a picture from the balcony. they had carts, tim helped them and in no time all 19 boxes and our lovely bench were in the hallway downstairs; and i never got to see the actual truck!!
we didnt drag them all upstairs. right now we dont have enough space and also still need to paint the bedroom. but its so nice to have some of the stuff back again!! and yep.... as you can see above, i had that huge plastic container of cheese balls shipped home... i just couldnt resist, and when there was still some space i decided i could nicely use it to pack some of all the spices, seeds and flours i had collected in the us.... and next to it my cook books! jaaaajj, so nice to have those back... (especially the bread book). theres still more kitchen stuff... so i will have to be creative in finding space for it all in the already overflowing kitchen..... 
we bought elvis a few weeks back here in amsterdam (i never cared for elvis until we visisted graceland.......). ah, and to the far right you can see (part of) our orange bread box hanging on the wall.... i do hope the walls are strong enough... ;)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

From Boston...

tomorrow... if all goes well, we should get our stuff that we shipped from boston. these boxes, to be precise... i wonder whether they still look like that. i hope they do..... may 29 they left our place in the usa, so thats ore than 2 months! i remember some of the things we packed and i am eager to see that stuff again (like the mug above... i cannot comment as to how that came into our possession, but now at least i can pretend, even in amsterdam, i am in the IHOP.... ;) ). the kitchen stuff (like pie pans and my marble dough roller), my sports clothing (3 pairs of running socks is not enough!!), oooh, and of course my shoes... all my shoes.. 
friday we last minute had to pay some customs fee to ensure they would deliver our stuff tomorrow. apparently the container with our stuff was chosen for a random check, and we had to pay the extra costs for that (100 dollars). quite a bit annoying, and not part of the deal. i hope it doesnt mean they went through all our stuff......
so now its time to sleep. all those boxes somehow have to get up 4 stairs, and we were too cheap to pay the moving company to do that for us...... ah, it will save me from going to the gym to do weight lifting... 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Dutch market

this was this morning, at the market... a salesman was demonstrating some fancy window wiper. i think something that soaps and immediately wipes it... i was surprised by how many people were actually watching...!
it took a while, but friday was the first time me and tim finally went out to dinner somewhere in the netherlands. we also had a beer somewhere, and we got reminded "how it works here". funny how you forget simple things like that. first of all, you just take a seat. there is no waiting to be seated. but then the next challenge is that you actually get noticed by the waitress (this can be hard). and when she (or he) finally does, it can take quite a while before they bring your order, AND you are (at least outside on the terrace) often required to pay immediately. its easiest to have cash in those cases, but in the us i really got used to always pay with card. especially in restaurants. its so convenient! (so we both didnt have any cash). here tim had to go inside the cafe with the girl to pay with card. then we had dinner, and again it felt weird to just walk into the restaurant and choose a table. we again had some trouble to get the waitress' attention, and when we finally ordered, it took ages for the food to arrive.... but it was very good! hmmmmm... and lots of vegetables (something i often missed in the us when eating out). so good i totally forgot to take a picture... :)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Without view!

this was at the gay pride last sunday. i first wondered whether all those beer cans are from those 2 sitting... but i guess not, everywhere it was such a terrible mess! at some places trash cans were indeed overflowing.. but regardless, people were just throwing their empty cans and plastic cups on the street. without looking, without being embarrassed, or anything. so weird!! i am glad people can just drink like this on the street during such an event (not like the US where people drink alcohol as well, only secretly, from a hidden bottle in their bag, or by pouring alcohol into some juice container. everyone does it, everyone knows it, so why isnt it just allowed?!). but the mess!! horrible!
as opposed to the us, most people did NOT bring chairs to watch the parade... haha. and these 2 dont have a view at all... probably they came too late, just like we did. we stood like that, behind other people for a little while, and nobody seemed to be leaving, so we gave up....

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Oooh, biking..!

a typical dutch scene. bikes, bikes and bikes. ive been biking a bit, mostly with tim since i dont really now my way still on a bike in amsterdam. and... i get to experience again why i so often used to say "aaarrghhh, everyone around me needs to take lessons in biking!!! from ME!". while in boston i really missed biking, and was very annoyed by the aggression many motorists displayed just by seeing someone on a bike on THEIR road. and i remember even once writing that those that do bike in boston dont really know how to, and that dutch are so much better at it... HA! a perfect example of glorifying the dutch bikers when not surrounded by them, while in fact.... i am more often than not annoyed by fellow bikers! (and scooters too, but thats for another post). yesterday we biked through the city center during a busy time of day and then you get bike traffic jams. people are too slow, people bike next to each other so that you cannot pass them (and refuse to move aside when you are approaching), people are frantically using their "fietsbel" (bicycle bell) to let you know they are coming and YOU need to move aside asap (and then they turn out to ride so slow that you have to pass them again). others are on their fancy phones while biking and dont pay any attention (that really pisses me off, and is something new, 3 years ago it wasnt this bad), and yet others are so superfast that they think they have the right to just hop onto the footpath to pass everyone, perhaps even running over some pedestrians in the process. then at the next traffic light everyone is together again, even the fast ones (unless they ignore the light, which happens often too), and the whole process starts again.....  aaarrrghhhh. i had forgotten all that and how i get worked up about it. tim doesnt really have that problem... he probably has a lower chance of heart disease than i do.... :) oh, and then i didnt even mention the tourists. all those tourists that want to have the real experience and rent a bike, usually in large groups, blocking every possibility to pass them while they are figuring out how you actually move forward on a bike.... ;)
pfew. i feel a bit calmer now... the street above leads to the entrance port i showed you earlier, but you dont get to bike underneath it...

Monday, August 5, 2013

Fun run

yesterday we participated in the color run! as you might know, the color run is more of a fun run than an athletic event where you run 5 km (3 miles) and every kilometer you get sprayed with another color, so that you look quite silly when done.... i had read about those while in the us, but we returned to the netherlands before there was one close to boston... then i discovered they were also in the netherlands, so i got a friend and tim crazy enough to join me. jaaaj!! it was supposed to be in utrecht, where i used to live before moving to boston.
when they finally releassed the course map, it turned out not to be in utrecht at all, but in a tiny town nearby. not very well accessible by public transport. grrrrrr... that already pissed me off, just like the "rules" they posted: bringing your own food or drinks was prohibited (water would only be allowed in case of hot weather). and their "advice" pissed me off even more: bring plenty of money, so that you can buy food and drinks at the party! (we had paid already 30 euros per person (some 40 dollars) for the ticket). so i did some googling and discovered that the color run does good by donating part of the entrance fee to charity (i must say i missed that point and solely joined for my own fun, but some were really thinking they were "doing good" by participating in this event; but.... 90% of the money goes to the organization, and only 10% goes to a good cause! moreover, most of the event is run by volunteers who got nothing more than a t-shirt (and of course the chance to douse everyone in color, that must have been a fun job). considering that 10.000 tickets were sold for this run... they made a LOT of money.... (in the US, over 600.000 people participated last year in various cities). (in fact, on their website they do mention they are a "for-profit" organization, but they are better at telling everyone they are "giving back and doing good")
well, anyways... while we started off pretty annoyed (we were stuck in a train with other color runners, and most of them turned out to be giggling girls... the 3 of us felt old and out of place!!), had to walk over 30 minutes just to get to the location NOT in the center of utrecht, had to aimlessly wait over an hour in the hot sun just to be able to start running (i actually didnt mind the sun, but apparently some more fragile creatures collapsed before they even started running)... the actual run was quite fun. well... run... i think around 75% of those giggling hip young girls were not running at all, but just walking (and some were smoking too, arrrghhhh, those dutch idiots)!! that really surprised me (although i didnt start running until 29 and would not have been able to run at their age either....). all those colors were pretty to see (but not fun to get into your mouth, at least it was just colored food grade corn starch), and as you see above, at the "party" everyone got to throw their own packet of color. too bad i didnt bring my camera... surely there wont be a next time, but i wouldnt mind watching from the sidelines to take pictures....

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Gay pride

today was the annual gay boat parade in amsterdam. its held since 1996, and i never went.. but since i now live in amsterdam, it was easy to just hop on the bike and have a look. well... ofcourse we arrived when it had started already and it was packed. all the cute little bridges were full with people, and this is literally the only shot i managed to take while on a bridge. we walked around a bit, and yes, there are many, many bridges, and they were all packed.... 
the gay parade is just another excuse to have everyone out on the street dressed up funny, acting weird and drinking beer... :) ah, and ofcourse there are the boats. all with their own theme and music... (some very interesting, others boring, like those from the political parties, i really dont get why they join). tim managed to get some better shots, but i havent looked at them yet....
we ended the day with this movie about the pianist liberace, with michael douglas and matt damon as lovers. very fitting, no? they were both very good (although near the end it was a bit too slow..).

Friday, August 2, 2013

OK, hot...

this afternoon the tiny kitchen reached a toasty 34C (over 93F). the living room was only a tiny bit cooler (31C). the house has a flat roof and we are on the upper floor..  yes, very close to the sun at the 4th floor (5th for americans).... ;)
somehow i decided i should just bake some bread. at least the oven took less time to heat up, but the dough didnt behave as it should (added too much water; the flours here are different and i havent figured the right measurements out yet, buuuhhh. and of course, it was a little too hot for the yeast.)
so above you see the kitchen. its not much bigger than what you see here, really, grrr. on the other side is the countertop with the stove, oven and no space for a dishwasher (or fridge, its in the next room, grrr again. the fridge that is, there is no space anywhere (or money) for a dishwasher!)). if one is in the kitchen, its not easy for the other to pass, theres simply not enough space (or maybe that should be an incentive to spend more time at the gym...?). at least tim recently hung some rods so all the pans are hanging on the wall, that really cleared up some cabinet space..
and in the mean time, its still hot, even now, well after midnight. it cooled off a little, but not enough for a good night of sleep, im sure. and guess what, it was record breaking hot. for the netherlands that is. and on this particular day (so what kind of record is that!?). and not in amsterdam, but in the south of the netherlands. it was 36.9 C at some point (98.42F), somewhere, and thats still less hot than what we experienced in boston, or in the desert during our road trips... :) reminds me, i should post some pictures of that one of these days!
oh, and i just love this tiny clock! i got it from ikea last time we were there, and you can flip it to any of the four sides, then it lights up a particular color, and gives you either the time, temperature, timer, or the alarm setting... perfect for a tiny kitchen... 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Drying laundry

its soooo very hot again here! and tomorrow is supposed to be even warmer, perhaps record breaking hot... if anything, its good for getting your laundry dry quickly! i really dislike to dry my clothes (or anything, really), in a dryer, and have always hung my clothes out to dry. and now i can finally hang them outside, on the balcony! it makes it smell so good...!
in our first place in the usa we had to go to a laundromat to do the laundry, but would always drag the wet stuff home to hang it out (the apartment was so huge that one room was dedicated to just that, haha). in the next we had both a washer and a dryer, but i just hung it out in the living room. there is something really relaxing in doing laundry. i like to hang it, and i even like to fold it (but i never iron).
most people around our place here in amsterdam hang their clothes out to dry. many have racks that hang from the railing, but i just wonder if that isnt annoying for the people underneath you, suddenly seeing your towels in front of their window.... 
whats crazy; in the us, the land of the free, its forbidden (!!) in many places to hang out your clothes. some 60 million americans are not allowed to hang their clothes in their own outside space! in some states, there are now laws that forbid apartment complexes to make such stupid rules, but not in massachusetts... (however, the state senator is now "fighting" for "the right to dry"). isnt that crazy? in a country where you can have guns in many states, you cannot dry your clothes in the most environmentallly friendly way (as well as cheapest, and best for your clothes... etc etc).
as you can see, i really like pink, and flowers... i brought this sheet to the us, and back home again...