Thursday, November 8, 2012 & "Help, I'm stuck"!

Yesterday I had volunteered with the American Women's Club of Amsterdam (AWCA) to go to the Leefkringhuis in Amsterdam.  One of the women in the club provided me with the address, gave me a list of items to bring (stickers for all ages, boys and girls; a stapler, scissors) and told me what time to show up. I was meeting one other woman from the Club (Lisa) there to help the children make paper lanterns for Sint Marten's Day, which is November 11th.

Luckily several months ago a woman I had met here gave me the website:   When you go to that website you just type in your starting and ending destinations and the time you want to leave or arrive. It provides you with walking directions to the nearest public transportation, including buses and trains!  It's so convenient and easy to use. I also discovered that there is an app for my IPhone and my IPAD, so I have downloaded those also!

To get there, I had to walk to the bus stop around the corner where I caught the bus to the Haarlem train station. When I arrived at the station I bought a roundtrip day ticket to Amsterdam Centraal.

When I arrived at Amsterdam Centraal on the train I was very early as I wanted to make sure I found the place to catch the bus. It was very easy. Everything at Amsterdam Centraal is well marked. I would be taking the Number 33 GV bus towards Nieuwendam.

Because I was early, I decided to walk around a bit. I took a left out of the station and what did I see?!?!  A beacon!!!!

I got myself a Soy Chai Tea Latte with two pumps and then I was good to go!!! LOL! It's a beautiful Starbucks, large, bright and very inviting.

I headed over to catch the bus at the "C" Platform:

It's so nice to have google maps on my phone! When I have it on my screen and the GPS is on, it tracks  my location. So, while riding the bus, I know when my stop is coming up rather than having to guess. Some buses don't have a display and sometimes when the driver announces the upcoming stop you can't understand him/her because the speakers aren't functioning properly.

We went under the Oosterdok (a body of water) in a tunnel and came up at the north end of Amsterdam. My stop was at Johan Van Hasseltweg.

I arrived there early also, so I walked around a bit and saw this interesting building:

and this cute tree fort (on the side of it in English is says "Dream it! Wish it! Do it!)

I met Lisa at Leefkringhuis at around 1420hrs.

It is a place where they help children of all ages. The AWCA women go there once a month for about an hour and do an art project with the children. The women bring all the supplies for the projects, including paper, scissors, staplers, etc.

We had a lot of fun with 5 children, ages 3-11 making paper lanterns for St. Martin's Day!  They will take the lanterns out and go door to door, sing a song and receive candy! Since I don't speak Dutch I was a little hesitant about going. The woman that was with me speaks Dutch pretty well, so that was a tremendous help. There was also an employee there who stayed with us and helped out.  We had a lot of fun, and the children seemed to really enjoy the project! We finished a little early, so we had them color and make paper snowflakes! We left the paper supplies, stickers and markers with them when we departed.

As we were leaving, I noticed the car Lisa was driving:

She says these cars from Greenwheels are all over Amsterdam. You can rent them by the hour!  To have a car in The Netherlands is very expensive, and having a car in the city is difficult as there is limited parking. So, she rents a car five days a week for a couple of hours!  You book it on-line and within fifteen minutes you can go pick up the car!

You just use your OV Chipkaart to pay for it.
The scanner for payment is on the dash on the driver's side. You just slide your card over it, go inside and retrieve the key and off you go! Apparently they are all over the UK also.

The OV Chipkaart is also used for most public transportation, including the buses, trams and some of the trains. It's all very convenient and easy to use.

When I got back to Haarlem I decided to walk home from the station and pick up some groceries on the way. I saw some unusual art on display:
 This bicycle has a birdhouse on the front of it:


Last night Jennifer from the AWCA hosted a clothing party at her house. A friend of hers, Ylva, is a professional shopper. She goes to Paris and shops directly from manufacturers and is able to offer clothing at terrifically marked down prices!  Andrew and I walked there together-the house is about 3/4 mile away.

There were about twelve women at the party. We had a lot of fun trying on clothes and helping each other choose things!  I normally hate shopping, but this was a fun way to do it!  I ended up buying a pretty sparkly black dress that I thought would be nice for the holidays. The dress was only 35 Euro!

To go underneath it, I bought this squishy inny thingie that women wear now to smoooooth out all the bumps that life has left all over our bodies!  I decided against trying that on last night...but did buy one (at only 15 Euro!).

I also bought a pair of leggings (7.50 Euro) (a first for me, everyone wears them here!), a little sweater (35 Euro) and a scarf (20 Euro)....thought that would be a cute outfit with some black boots!

After the party, I started to walk home. It was about 2230hrs. I called Andrew, as he had said he would meet me so I wouldn't have to walk alone. While I was walking I noticed several women walking and riding their bicycles. Haarlem is a very safe town and I felt okay walking by myself. Next time though, I think I'll take my bicycle-it's faster!

This morning, I decided to try on the squishy inny thingie that I had bought, just to be sure it will do the job! Wellllllllll....I "stepped into it" as Ylva had said....but, how are you supposed to get outttttt of it?!?!?  Aye!  It felt like it was melded to my body!  I was worried that I was going to be stuck in it forever...or I'd have to cut it off!!! After a few minutes of struggling with the darn thing, I was able to get out of it. Whew!  My my....the things we do to try to look good!


For a snack this afternoon I thought I'd try something new. Since I love pickled herring and olives, this sounded good!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day in U.S.A.

I hope every gets out there and votes!

From the front page on

Why the 2012 election is the closest in recent history

As Election Day approaches, a review of polling data going back to 1936 shows the race betweenPresident Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is the closest in 76 years.
romneyobamaIn many cases, polling isn’t an exact science, and few polls take into account electoral votes, which ultimately decide the winner of the presidential race.
But polls showing the projected popular vote are useful indicators of how the final election will turn out. In other words, polls about the popular vote don’t always pick the winner, but they usually do.
And there hasn’t been a closer election in the polling world since the mid-1930s, when scientific methods were first used to project a presidential winner based on modern sampling techniques.
As of Monday, President Obama has a very slim 0.4 percent lead in the popular vote based on consensus data from Real Clear Politics. Gallup suspended its national tracking polling last week after Hurricane Sandy, but its recent swing state poll shows Obama and Romney tied at 48 percent.
Of the six major national polls taken in November, three show Obama with a slight edge, two show a tied election and one favors Romney. Only one poll, from Pew Research, shows Obama ahead by more than the margin of error in a poll.
In historical terms, looking at past polls from Gallup and two recent consensus polls from Real Clear Politics, it’s the closest election since 2000, when George W. Bush and Al Gore approached Election Day.
The 2000 contest also appears to be the nearest thing to the Obama-Romney campaign if you look at a consensus polling model, instead of Gallup.
Gallup polling from 2000 showed a two-point margin lead for Bush among likely voters and a one-point margin for Gore among registered voters.
We went back to the data for 2000 and did our own Constitution Daily average for the nine major polls taken within a week of Election Day.


Thank you KSFO in San Francisco for you IPAD APP!  I'm able to listen to election coverage live! LOVE IT!

This was posted on my Facebook page......intimidation at the polls in Philadelphia:

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Walking in the Rain and Eat, Drink and be Merry!

A few days ago I was walking home from grocery shopping when I ran into one of our "old" neighbors. It was raining  and we were standing outside of a little cafe sharing an umbrella. Her dog, Tommy, was waiting inside the doorway of the cafe when the owner of the shop took this picture, which he posted on Facebook with the phrase "Slim om onder het luchtgordijn 
te wachten op het baasje!" ("Smart to sit under the curtain waiting for the owner"!).

Thursdays I usually wash sheets and towels and hang them to dry in the kitchen (right next to the washer/dryer). Last week we had changed to the flannel sheets. Well, the washing/drying cycle takes three hours, then I hung them to dry. It took over 12 hours to dry!  Washing/drying sheets should not be a 15 hour process!  So, now I've moved the drying rack upstairs where it is warmer in hopes that it will accelerate the drying time in the future...we shall see!

Saturday Andrew and I went over the Mediamarkt in Cruquius so that I could look at cameras. I had done quite a bit of research and "talked" to friends (via Facebook and email!) about all the choices out there.  I decided on the Sony Cybershot DSC-HX10V. These pictures are the first ones I've taken with the new camera. So far, so good!  It seems to be very user friendly. While I was sitting on the couch, wrapped up in my blanket, reading the user's manual Sammy came up to say "hi"!

Yesterday, we started to head out to go to Amsterdam, but I started coughing so much we decided to stay home. We had gotten to the train station by bus, and chose to walk home as I needed to stop and get some cough drops on the way at Etos.

We decided to stop for breakfast at Doria Cafe. It was nice and toasty warm inside the restaurant. We both ordered ontbijt (breakfast). 

We went home for a bit, then thought we should get some fresh air, so we took Sammy for a walk in the woods. 
"My" tree (love this tree!):
Mushrooms growing on a tree stump:
A few weeks ago I took pictures of these. At the time they looked like pink berries. But now! They burst open and have flowered!:

Afterwards I took a little nap (still trying to recover from this cough...).  

Last night we went to the Pathe bioscoop (the movie theater) to see "Skyfall", the new James Bond movie with some friends. Good movie......typical "Bond" movie!

After dinner we went over to the Woodstone Pizza place across the plaza from the move theater. There was a 45 minute wait so we chose to walk to another restaurant. We went to a couple of familiar restaurants, which also had long wait times, or no availability at all. We found that Stempels had an available table, so that's where we chose to have dinner. 

Louise and I ordered "skate":

and Andrew and Gary ordered the veal.

We chose to have a beer rather than order a bottle of wine (wine selection was "pedestrian"). The beer (Texels) on tap was quite good:

Dessert was white chocolate with cinammon and vanilla ice cream:

and a caramel dessert:

The food was good, but unremarkable. Could have had a little more flavor.

About a half hour after we got home there was quite a storm. Lots of thunder, lightening and hail. This morning there was still hail in pockets of the yard....pretty chilly this morning!

Our flowers this week:


This afternoon we went over to our neighbors' house and planned out a Thanksgiving dinner, deciding who will bring what, etc. Should be fun to celebrate an American holiday in Holland!