Saturday, April 14, 2012

Amsterdam for the day

Yesterday we decided to spend the day in Amsterdam.

In the morning we went to a nearby town called  Alkmaar to go to a store called "Babyland" to buy a baby gate for the guest room. We wanted to put the gate across the doorway for Socrates so he can have his food safe from Sammy! While shopping there we saw:

Baby products here are quite different from the States, and quite a bit more expensive!

Unfortunately we got kind of a late start, so we didn't get to spend much time window shopping. It's hard to get used to how early all the stores close here (around 1730hrs).

We went to de Bijenkorf to get some coffee pods for the Nespresso machine. There are a few places to buy the pods, or we can go on-line and have them delivered.

Then we took the tram around town and just did some walking and window shopping!

Bikes everywhere!

Some girls "performing" Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes (in Dutch!)

China town area:

Some beautiful rooflines:

For dinner we decided to go back to Haarlem, check on the dog and cat and eat in Haarlem. There are so many restaurants to choose from in town. We decided to try one close to home called "Napoli".  The food was delicious....and wonderful presentation!  They serve a pasta there that we both want to try next time. They have a large round of parmesan cheese which is partially hollowed out. They pour some whiskey in it, light a flame and melt the cheese. Then they pour the spaghetti in the round with the melted cheese and scoop it all out onto your plate!  Looks delicious! Andrew had the lasagna and I had the salmon. Both were very good. For dessert we had a yummy white and dark chocolate gelato dish and some espresso.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Walk in the woods!

Both yesterday and today Sammy and I went for a walk in the woods. It's about 1/2 mile away. It's so nice that it's close by!

Sammy loves it! He can be off leash in the park...and play with the other dogs. He likes to say "hi" to everyone that goes by. On the way to the park yesterday the children were outside on recess from the school we walk by. Several of them approached me and asked if they could pet Sammy (in Dutch...) and asked his name. He reveled in all the attention!

Our cable t.v. has been out for 2 days. I went to their office downtown and asked them about it two days ago. At that time they said there was a problem in Haarlem and parts of Amsterdam, so we let it go. It still wasn't working this morning, so I went back to their office. They gave me a customer service number to call. When I called there was a phone tree (of course!) all in "Nederlands" (Dutch). With my rudimentary knowledge of the language I was able to get through that to a live person who, thankfully, spoke English!  He walked me through many steps to reset the box, to no avail.  Sooooo, now they have to send a technician out to fix it.

Andrew has been working on collecting out belongings that we shipped over. There is a lot of paperwork involved in bringing things into the country. He has finally gotten through it all and we can pick everything up (in Rotterdam) on Monday. So, he will take 1/2 day off so we can drive down there. There is also a fee for bringing the items in.....we have to pay a tax on the estimated value! If I had known that I would've estimated the value as far less. It's going to cost about 400 EURO to pick up our belongings. Needless to say we will not be shipping the items back to the States when we leave!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Sun was out for a couple of hours today!

For the past few months my life has been go, go today I've decided to just rest today. The only chore I've done is laundry, and I think I'm finally caught up with that.....there are two loads drying on the rack now! For breakfast I have been eating fat free yogurt with Muesli cereal and fresh blueberries from the land of giants....these are the biggest blueberries I've ever seen!!!

Yesterday our neighbor, Magrite, came over in the morning and together we took our dogs for a walk in the woods!  It's so nice to have the woods so close to the house....She convinced me to let Sammy off leash (which we never did in California). She said most dogs behave better off leash. He was soooooo good!  He played with her dog (a little jack russell terrier) and all the other dogs in the park. Sammy had such a great time!!!  It was a nice relaxing walk.....

We have met several of our neighbors, all of whom seem very friendly. Another neighbor, Marika, brought flowers over a couple of days ago to welcome us to the neighborhood.

Yesterday afternoon I was out in the front of the house planting some of the flowers in pots and I met a couple more neighbors.

Of course, everyone has brought up the fact that Sammy was out barking the other day.  They were all very concerned......and it probably annoyed the heck out of everyone!  Apparently people here never ever leave their dogs outside. When they leave for the day, they leave the dog inside the house. It will be difficult for Andrew after I leave since he's gone for a better part of the day. Magrite said she could come over on Monday and Tuesday to take Sammy for a walk in the middle of the day...and she volunteered another neighbor to come and take him on Wednesdays till I get back at the end of May.

When Andrew and I left California each of us brought over two pieces of luggage.  There isn't much closet space here, so we are going to have to buy some shelves for one of the closets and just keep some of our clothes folded.  I have one more trip and a pile all ready to go in CA to come back. There are a lot of spices that I've brought over, and more to come next time. I've also brought things like razor blades, shampoo, etc. Some things are very expensive here.  In the last 4-5 months I've lost about 10 pounds, probably because I've been so busy in CA with packing for moving, etc. and I've been doing a lot of walking here.

I've had plantar fasciitis in my left foot since around November....which makes walking difficult, especially when I'm carrying packages. My doctor at Kaiser says if it's not getting better by mid April  he's going to put me in a cast. This weekend I'll be going out to get a bicycle. Hopefully that'll give my foot enough of a rest that it can heal...

Our realtor, Ingrid, says the home inspections have been done at the house in CA.  We'll know in the next couple of days how that went.  We're not expecting any real problems.  It's been raining there, which is the plants in the garden and pots won't die while I'm gone!

Ok, at around 1300hrs....I couldn't stand it anymore!  It's difficult for me to just sit around, though I did try!  The vacuum cleaner was calling I took it out and cleaned up the house. Now the sun is shining, so I'll finish planting flowers...Andrew had put some in a few weeks ago and I'm going to plant the flowers we bought the other day at the nursery. What a beautiful day!!!

We plan on putting in sod in the yard. It's so small we could cut it with a weed trimmer......Hopefully we can do that this coming weekend.  Right now there are just a few sprigs of grass there. I pulled most of the weeds in that area today.

There are no screens on any windows or doors here. We brought some screening material over from the States and will have to figure out how to attach it so we don't put holes in the window framing.  I had the garden doors open earlier and now there is a fly inside buzzing around driving me crazy!

Time to start making dinner.....I will be making potato leek soup, some zucchini with onions and tomatoes and some gepaneerde schnitzel mager rundvleesproduct (breaded lean beef cutlet)!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Off to Keukenhof!

Today, even though it's raining, we decided to go to the Keukenhof Gardens!  It's only open from mid March through the middle of, for me, it was either go today or next weekend. I had been there a few years ago when we were visiting Amsterdam (I took a tour bus there). It is the largest bulb flower garden in the world, with over 4.5 million tulips of over 100 varieties! More than 7 million bulbs on the property were planted by hand.

Here are just a few of the pictures I took there!

Fields of flowers as far as you can see!

Little boy enjoying the car on display!

Fresh roses with the tips of the petals dipped in glitter

The white on the ground are petals from the trees!

Dress made from discs of wood:

This dress is made from egg shells...each shell painted black on the outside:

When we got home we found a note from our neighbor saying that Sammy had been barking the entire time we were gone. We had left him in the back yard with the door to the shed open so he could go in out of the rain.  Soooooooo, we will have to figure out something else for him...possibly keep him in the kitchen when we leave.

A few neighbors came by later in the day to tell us about Sammy barking. Guess he disturbed quite a few people. It'll be fine while I'm here, but it'll be difficult with him when Andrew goes to work after I leave in less than two weeks.

It was the strangest sensation I had when the neighbors came by. I had been taking a nap (still jet lagged....grrrrr!). While he was talking with them, for several minutes, I felt like a guest in the house, rather than someone who lives here. What a strange feeling......I supposed it's because I've spent the past month in California. Andrew has gotten a routine going, and I haven't been part of it.

Socrates is still having a bit of a hard time....mostly because he can't have the run of the house, and we don't have the room where his litter box and food are blocked off from the dog. We will have to get a baby gate this next weekend.

One more month and Kevin will be back from Afghanistan!