Saturday, February 2, 2013

Broken pipes and WTC!

This past Thursday evening, while washing dishes after dinner, I noticed there was no hot water. Soooo, I ran upstairs to check the pressure on the boiler system and it was at zero!  Andrew and I turned the system off and went around the house checking everything. First we made sure none of the circuit breakers had blown...they all looked fine. However, while checking that we noticed there was water running down the wall in the entryway......Notttttt good! At first we thought we had a leak in the new gutter between the houses because of the very windy rainy storm we had the night before. After checking further we discovered water in the guest room closet. We weren't sure if the pipes were leaking or the roof!

We called the landlords and let them know that we would be calling the plumber who had come out the last time we had a problem.  We called Frank  of Frank Hendrikse Onderhoudsbedrijf. Frank advised us that he would be at the house in about an hour. Frank arrived around 2030hrs. and discovered a leak in the pipes in the guest room closet.

He brought all of his tools in and got to work on it right away. We helped him drain the system from the kitchen while he repaired the pipes. While he was here our landlord Hans came by to see if everything was under control...which was very nice! Frank had the work done in about an hour and a half! After he finished repairing the pipes we refilled the system with water keeping the pressure around 1 1/2. Frank says the pressure will go down automatically in a couple of days when the air in the system bleeds out.  While he was here he checked the pipes in the bedroom.

He says all the piping should be replaced because it wasn't done with copper piping and what is there is getting rusty and worn out.   As long as we keep the pressure on the low side it should be okay though.

Without Frank's expertise we would have had to go without hot water and heating in the house!  We were soooo thankful for his quick response!  Around 2230, Hans and Angela both came by to make sure everything was okay. We couldn't ask for nicer landlords!


Friday, February 1st

Andrew took the day off because we had an appointment in Amsterdam with a Dutch tax guy named Rens van Oers at Tax Consultants International. We left the house around 0830 to travel by train and tram to his office at the World Trade Center. The office is in Tower D, on the 10th floor.

The laws regarding the Dutch taxes are very complex. We felt reassured after our appointment knowing that we have an expert behind us who will assist with the filing of our taxes. Even though we are married, we have to file separately here. We also have to file U.S. taxes, so we are looking for someone to assist us with that also. The filing of both returns have to be done in sync so that we don't miss anything from either country.

World Trade Center, Amsterdam:

To get to the WTC we had taken Tram #5 from Amsterdam Centraal to Station Zuid. We would have preferred to take the Metro (which has fewer stops along the way), but Andrew's OV Chipkaart wouldn't work for the Metro for some reason. It worked earlier on the bus, but isn't working for the trains or the Metro.

After our appointment we decided to go to the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch.  We got back on Tram #5 at Station Zuid...

and traveled up to the Leidseplein stop. There we saw the Apple store...and decided to go inside. I needed to find out about how to hook up my laptop to the television so we can play DVD's...We had never been inside the store. It's huuuuuge and very well run!  Most of the Apple stores we've been into feel cramped and are always crowded. This one was very nice!  They were very helpful there!

I discovered that I need something they don't sell...The salesman did show me where to go on-line to get what I need (Kanex IAdapt20-I found it on which was very nice.

We continued on to our destination.....The Hard Rock Cafe!

Our view:

We had a nice lunch then headed over to the Bijenkorf to look for a new wallet and umbrella for Andrew. We also went over to the Nespresso store on Pieter Cornelius Hooftstraat (which is a famous shopping street in Amsterdam) to add more to our supply of Nespresso pods.

Before we had left home in the morning I looked online for stationery stores in Amsterdam. I found one that sounded wonderful called "Cortina Papier".  After we left the Nespresso store, we headed over there to take a was no longer there! That was the 2nd time that happened to us (about a month ago we looked for a hat store in Amsterdam that had gone out of business also. Soooo, next time we will be sure to call before we make the trip.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Prayer and The Art of Eating an Oreo!

I received this in an email this morning from Guideposts.....I really like this:

Prayer: As Natural as Breathing

Read what Guideposts’ executive editor has to say about the essence of praying.
By Rick Hamlin, New York, New York
In this article:
To try to pray is to pray.
You can’t fail at it. Nobody can. Open your heart, open your mouth, say something, say nothing. Shout if you must. Raise your hands, clasp them in your lap. Sing if you please. You can start with a “Dear Lord” and end with an “Amen,” or you can dive right in. 
You can close your eyes, get on your knees, use whatever language you like or no language at all. You can pray when you’re walking, running, driving to work, setting the table for dinner, lying in bed before you turn the light out.
To try it is to do it. It’s the only human endeavor I can think of where trying is doing. Reaching out is holding on. Joining in is letting go. Prayer is as natural as breathing. It’s fun. It’s a relief. It’s comforting. It’s a solace. You can tell yourself it’s an obligation or that it’s a terrific waste of time, but how often do you get to waste time with a purpose? If you’re like me and think every minute of your day has to be accounted for, you really do need prayer. You’ll run out of steam without it.
You can do it in private. You can do it with a friend at your kitchen table or in a church pew or with your family at dinner. You can do it in a windowless basement with a twelve-step group or out under the stars on a summer night. You can practice it all you like, but the practice itself is perfect. No need for a dress rehearsal. All your false attempts, your back-up-and-try-again efforts—they’re it. 
You will wonder if you’re doing it right. You will want a little more guidance. You’ll want to hear from others who take it seriously and learn from their example. Even the finest cooks look for inspiration in a new cookbook. But the masters will affirm that prayer is a school for amateurs because doing it from the heart is all that matters. That’s the only expertise you need. 

Last week my friends in CA sent a box of cookies to me. In it there was a package of Oreo cookies. To me, eating an Oreo is an experience! must twist off one layer of two cookies, like so: put the two cookies with the frosting together and there you have made your own DoubleStuff!  Yummy!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Grote Markt, Napoli and Whiskey tasting from "Liquid Gold"

This past Saturday morning we went to the Grote Markt (the large market downtown) and did a little shopping. There is a stand there that sells English pot pies, 3 for 10 Euro. Soooo, we bought three....2 steak and 1 thai chicken. Delicious!!!

It had snowed a little more early Saturday afternoon....enough to cover everything with a white dust! 

Saturday evening we had reservations for dinner at Napoli Restaurant. Andrew's coworker, Wouder, and his wife, Isabel, met us at the house at around 1830. We had a glass of champagne, then walked over to the restaurant around 1945hrs. We had a very nice dinner together....We all ordered the Pasta Napoli...their specialty! Wouder and Isabel are such a sweet couple. It was such a relaxing evening. 


Sunday, January 27th

It rained this morning......which melted most of the snow. Can't say that I'm disappointed actually!  I grew up in Minnesota, where winter lasts for months. I loved it when I was a kid...skating on outdoor rinks, snowmobiling, building snowforts, etc. When I was 18 I joined the U.S. Army and after getting out I stayed In California and lived there from 1976 till 2012. Soooo, I'm no longer used to living in an area where there is snow. I did spend one winter (in 1985) in Minnesota while my first husband was in the hospital in Minneapolis, but I was so busy and worried about other things the weather didn't really bother me. I do remember one morning though....the windchill factor was minus 75 degree Farenheit...(YES!!!  Ugh!) and my truck wouldn't start because it was frooooozen!!! I learned that if you buy a heater that you can plug in it keeps the engine block warm so it won't freeze up! Who would've thought?!?! 

Now, I'm looking at winters with different eyes!  I know that when we go back to the States I don't want to live in a place that gets buried with snow...and where winter lasts for months with subzero temperatures!  We shall see where we end up in 2014!!!

This afternoon, at 1400hrs, we went with our wonderful neighbors Bruce and Linda, to a whisky tasting. It took place at the Hotel Die Raeckse in Haarlem.

Here's reference to BOB again.... Linda told me that BOB is the "designated driver".

We didn't end up buying anything there....but we did enjoy tasting whiskeys from small distilleries, and spending time with Bruce and Linda!