Saturday, December 30, 2006

Spending money

We went to a city yesterday to do some shopping. Both M and I were in dire need of clothes and shoes. We succeeded, and I even managed to find a pair of blue jeans. What is up with all those low-rise pants that end mid-butt? I want hip blue jeans that do not show of the color of my underwear when I sit down. I ended up buying a men's pair. I don't care though, I like them and they're comfy.

But the hugest money spending of our life happened Wednesday night. We bought our house! We had been renting it for two years, but were offered the opportunity to buy it. After two appraisals and three nights of careful discussing (because our landlords are M's uncle and father) we agreed on a price that was acceptable to everybody. Now all we have to do is finalize the mortgage and visit the notary to get the paper work taken care of.
I believe I'm growing up. Within a week I'm an engaged woman who owns a house!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A game and an important question

On the first day of Christmas we had about an hour to spare before we were supposed to go to my parents. We decided to go play a game of Rummicub. So I got the things ready, and started to sort my Rummicub stones, when M stood behind me. I said "Hey, you're cheating, move away from here!".
He laughed and put a wrapped box before me. "I bought you something". I was a little surprised and opened the box, to find this watch, only purple instead of white. When I got up to thank him, he said "I also had a question". He smiled and asked me to marry him. Of course I said yes! So we kissed and cuddled.
And then we played Rummicub....

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Really simple

Nothing fancy, but straight from the heart.

I wish everybody a very merry Christmas!
I'll be celebrating with friends tonight. Tomorrow morning I'll be going to church with my parents and later go to their house for some old fashioned game fun and a good dinner. And the second day of Christmas we'll do exactly the same at M's parents.

Lots of blessings!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christmas in the Netherlands

After I told you about Sinterklaas, it's time I told you something about the way Christmas is celebrated in the Netherlands. But of course the Netherlands is a country with 15 million people and everybody has their own traditions, so I'll explain the way we celebrate in my family.

In my country, lots of people are secular and don't believe in God. To them, Christmas is a time of being together with family and eating a big meal. Lots of those people do a gift exchange at Christmas too, after their children don't believe in Sinterklaas anymore. I am pretty strongly opposed to that, because in my opinion gift-giving at Christmas is an American tradition. There's nothing wrong with that, but I prefer to hang on to our own, Dutch traditions and exchange gifts on the 5th. Besides, to me, Christmas isn't about presents, but about something else.

About a week before the 25th, we would put up our Christmas tree. My parents always have a real tree, and so do I. I love the smell of pine needles! I always love that moment when the Christmas boxes are taken down from the attic. I would open them up and look at all the stuff in there. I did that again this year too, but that was because this year is only our second year to have our own tree, and I forgot what all we have. :-)

Because we are a Christian family, my dad would always start reading the Christmas story from the Bible, a few days in advance. Every other year we would celebrate Christmas with my grandfather. But if we were home on Christmas Eve we would go to church, to the night service. I always think it's magical to attend that service, late at night and with lots of candles.And then, on both days of Christmas (in Holland we have 2 days! That is because in the old days people would go to church on the first day and spend time with family on the second. Easter is also a 2 day thing here.) we would have a nice meal, play lots of games, take walks outside and do things like that. We have a pretty harmonious family so I have lots of good Christmas memories.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Typical Dutchnic

Sometimes I have these things that are so clumsy, they are typical. Like Tuesday, and today.
Tuesday I had an appointment at the dermatologists's. I had to have a little mole removed (nothing to worry about). I had a typical Dutchnic moment..
I showed up at the receptionist's desk, saying: "hi, I had a 4 o'clock appointment with dr. X"
she: "no you didn't, you were a no-show at 3."
I: "oh gosh, now what do I do?"
she: "I'll talk to the dr, he's in a good mood today. ...... Yes, he'll help you. Can I have your punch card please?" (I have no idea if punch card is a correct translation. In my country you need a card with your insurance and address info to see a dr. in a hospital. They look like 80's credit cards, but they use them to check if it's really you.)
I: "Great, yeah, sure, here it is".
She: "OK, Miss (last name of my love), come along".
I: "hold on, that's not my name, that's my boyfriend's name"
(not only did I show up an hour late, I also brought my love's punch card instead of my own!)
She, not even losing her patience: "you can go to the main desk and have a new card made."
That's what I did, and the dr. helped me. He told me to come back on Thursday to have the stitch taken out. I thought 2 days was awfully quick, but hey, what do I know about medical technology?
So I show up today, and the lady says: "No you don't have an appointment, the dr. isn't even in. Let me pull up your file."
So she does, and...
"I'll see you next week Miss, because your appointment is for the 21st!"
That is so typical...can I blame it on the mono?


You know what's really annoying? If you have mono, have been busy all day without taking a nap, and are not able to fall asleep even though it's 2:00. That's annoying!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Good day fruit

Today is another good day. I'm starting to get my old bubbly optimism back! Monday night I went to my parents and when I got back there was this big fruit basket that had been delivered! It was from all of my colleagues. And today there was a card in the mail with a book store gift certificate. I work at a great school with great people!
I've noticed for a few days that I haven't been able to sleep right away at night. So I cut down on the naps and am starting to get up earlier. Of course still not early, but 9:30 instead of 11:30. I do more in the daytime, which still makes me really tired, but I'm starting to feel like I can slowly start to work on getting my energy back. Because boy, am I out of shape! Yesterday my mom and I took a walk across town (about 2 km) to a kitchen store. She wants a new kitchen so we looked around and then walked back. That's a distance I can usually easily walk. I'll have to start building up again! Today I biked to the local supermarket (not even 1 km) and I could feel my legs. I'm embarrassed to say that... what kind of Dutch girl am I?The good thing is, I'm walking and biking again. And if I build it up slowly, I'm sure my energy level will increase as well. And I have plenty of fruit to help me!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Pachelbel Rant

Pachelbel's Canon in D is something I really enjoyed to play. I played it when I was in orchestra in my foreign exchange year in the USA. I played the second violin part but I understand this guy's view of the cello part. Funny one!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Praise and cobbler

Today has been a good day. We slept in, I got breakfast in bed and then we cosily watched two Friends episodes. This afternoon we went for a walk (it was a beautiful day!) and tonight we fixed berry cobbler for dessert. I love berry cobbler, it's my absolute favorite American dessert. Tonight we have a dance class (we haven't been in three weeks but I feel up to it so we'll give it a try). In honor of this good day, here's my recipe.

Dutchnic's berry cobbler
- 500 gr. fruit. Berries, apple, peach, or any mix of fruit. Can be frozen or thawed. Everything is good!
- 100 gr. flour
- 50 gr. butter, right out of the fridge so it's still hard
- 50 gr. sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Heat oven to 180° C. Put fruit in large oven dish, add half of the sugar and all of the cinnamon. Mix well. In a separate bowl, mix flour and sugar and cut in the butter, using a fork or a pastry blender (see picture). When it looks like bread crumbs, cover the fruit. Put it in the oven.
After ±45 minutes you have a wonderful dessert. Careful, it's hot! Great with vla, whipped cream and/or ice cream. Enjoy!

Friday, December 08, 2006


This entry was inspired by DeepLight and Allis. I know that it is totally unnessecary for all of the Dutch people that read my blog. But I wrote it for my Xanga, so I decided to post it here too.

Tuesday, December 5th, we celebrated St.Nick's day. That is the day we exchange gifts in the Netherlands. In our country, the religious Christmas and the gift exchange are two different things. The day we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ is December 25th, just like in other countries. We actually have a Second Christmas Day too, on the 26th. That's because, traditionally, people would go to church on the First and go see family on the Second.

But, back to St. Nick. We call him Sinterklaas, which is an abbreviation of Sint Nicolaas. He arrives on a steam boat (called Pakjesboot 12, or Present boat 12), about two weeks before the 5th. On a Saturday morning he arrives in the country, which is aired on national TV. The days after that he arrives locally, in ports, streams, or by car or other means of transportation.

St.Nick has a lot of helpers, called Zwarte Pieten, or Black Petes. They are boys and girls whose faces are black with soot, because they have to go down chimneys to distribute presents. Typically, little kids (the true believers) can put their shoes by the chimney (or back door, or somewhere else) before they go to bed, and when they wake up they find that their shoes have been filled with candy and little presents. This is done on the week-ends between the arrival of St. Nick and the actual celebration of his birthday (which is done December 5th instead of his real birthday, the 6th, because on that day he is too busy with his own presents).

On the night that his birthday is celebrated (typically the 5th, but the Saturday night is popular too, he can't be in all places at once after all) everybody is excited. After a knock on the window and a ringing of the door bell there is a big basket (which looks a lot like mom's clothes basket) full of presents and candy. There are traditional songs, and traditional candy. It's a great time for traditions.

The people that are not so believing anymore, usually draw names. It's kind of like a Secret Santa. You buy a present for the person on your paper and that's when it starts. You have to make up an original way to wrap it. For instance, if someone is a soccer player, you might hide the present in a papier-maché soccer ball. Or if someone asked for slippers, you can make him huge paper slippers and hide the present in there. Step 3 is to make a poem. In this poem, little jokes are made about the person. He has to read the poem out loud before he can open his present, so everybody has a good laugh.

Needless to say, St. Nick is my favorite holiday in the year. Anymore though, more and more people start giving presents at Christmas, once their kids don't believe in Sinterklaas anymore. I think that's a loss of our culture. Besides, Santa Claus was made up by Dutch immigrants in the United States who wanted to keep their tradition, yet change it to their new culture. And Coca Cola did the rest...Because St. Nick is so important, nobody has any Christmas decorations up until December 6th. That would be showing a lack of respect for St.Nicholas..

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Messed up

Sometimes my big mouth (or big fingers) say or type something that I mean well. But then I sometimes forget how I say things or to whom. And then sometimes people think I'm trying to put them down or make them feel bad. When I don't, I just expressed what I thought was necessary for them to know. Or I tried to help them but did that in the wrong tone of voice.
But now I feel bad, and I guess I deserve to. I guess even though I'm 25 I sometimes still have trouble thinking before I act or about humbling...

Complain, or not?

Well, isn't this weird. I just went online to write a blog to complain. I've been so tired, it's hard to concentrate and it seems like all I can do is sleep and watch dvd's. I had one of those nights where you just sit and feel sorry for yourself. I watched one of those true-story-tv-movies and felt even sorrier for myself.
When I opened up Outlook Express I found an e-mail from a friend in the United States, saying that his wife's spinal surgery went well. Her tumor was removed. I didn't even know she had a tumor....
Why am I complaining about being tired? Mono is one of those things that pass, provided you take good care of myself. This is one of those moments that are humbling and put both feet back on the ground....