Saturday, March 16, 2013

Provincie Noord-Holland is open!

The new Provincie North Holland building has been finished. Today the doors were open for an Open House....sooooo....we went inside! It's a beautiful six story building.

1st floor is floor 0:

The "Cone of Silence"!!!

We up to the top floor where you can step outside on a little patio. I was able to take a few pictures from there of Haarlem!


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Life is good in the Netherlands

Sooooooo......I have been living in Haarlem for 8 1/2 months now. Andrew has been here for 14 1/2 months. I can't believe how fast the time is flying now. For me, the first six months was a time of adjusting. Now I feel like this is home......

I do need to make sure I take a multi-vitamin and Vitamin D daily. It's very often gray, cold and gloomy here. I've noticed if I take my vitamins I feel much more energetic than when I forget to take them.

My wonderful friend Hetty told me once that now I have two countries...and now I realize she is right!  I am so blessed!

We have found that overall this has been a great experience!  We have enjoyed meeting new people and making new friends. We do miss our children tremendously. We do call them with Skype and we write a lot of letters. Of course, there's nothing like "being there".....Thank goodness for the internet!

Yesterday I went into Amsterdam to get more pods for our Nespresso machine. Louise had recommended a paper store in Amsterdam when I told her that we needed some nice stationery to write I went there too!

It's called "Vlieger Papier". The business has been there since 1869!

There is quite a nice array of paper available there....many hand made. What a fun place to shop!

As I was heading towards the tram to go home I saw a sign for an American Indian display at the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam. What an unlikely place to have something like that! Since I wasn't in a rush, I decided to check it out.

The collection on display was smaller than I thought it would be, which was a little disappointing...some was quite cute. They had a few television monitors set up where they were showing old "western" Dutch! I'd never seen an American Indian speaking Dutch!  The art collection was very good...they had pottery, paintings, wood carvings, baskets, etc. on display.

The Nieuwe Kerk is a 15th century church. The official program for the abdication and investiture will take place on 30 April 2013 there. Queen Beatrix will sign the Instrument of Abdication at the Royal Palace, Amsterdam. The investiture of Willem-Alexander as king will then take place at the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam. It was wonderful to see the inside of the church where this will take place. They are expecting record crowds for the ceremony.....soooo most likely Andrew and I will not be going to Amsterdam. We will stay in Haarlem and celebrate from a distance!

While I was walking home from the train station in Haarlem, I took a few pictures of bicycles and others unusual "modes of transportation" and thought I'd share a few!

I had a hankering for an apple pie.....soooooo....I made one when I got home! Yummy!

While I was relaxing this morning....Socrates was sitting in his new favorite spot in the window!!!

One of our tulips in the house...We love buying new flowers every week!!!  Flowers flowers it!

We also went for a walk in the woods today....the flowers are starting to peak out!!!

The paths in the woods are being "repaved" with shells!  

Sunday, March 10, 2013

What is a "Stoma" you ask?!?! And Kaneda Restaurant

What is a "Stoma" you ask?!?!?  Ha!......I thought I knew what it was too!  The definition that came to my mind when I heard the term was:

A stoma is a hole (opening) made in the skin in front of your neck to allow you to breathe. The opening is made at the base of your neck. Through this hole air enters and leaves your windpipe (trachea) and lungs.

When I was working as a 9-1-1 dispatcher, we had special instructions we provided for patients with a stoma for CPR. 

Wellllllllllllll, I will no longer think of "stoma" the same way!  The term in Dutch means something totally different!  The word for Grandmother is "Oma". Soooo, they combined "Step" and "Oma"  and came up with the term "Stoma" for Step-Grandma!  Aye!!!  I'm going  to stick with "Nonni" and/or "Oma", or "Grandma"!!! LOL!

Last night we met my hairdresser, Carla, and her boyfriend, Teo, and a few of her other clients for dinner at the Kineda Restaurant. It's a teppanyaki/sushi restaurant. The food there was very tasty and fresh. I had a few different types of sushi, some nigiri and some of the teppanyaki (cooked on grill). The dinner was all you can eat and drink (wine, beer, tea and/or coffee) for €31.50  each. It was delicious! Carla had expected more people, but we ended up with a small group (7 of us). We had a very enjoyable evening. I would recommend going there on a week night, as it was very busy and the service was a little lacking. 


A few days ago we received a bill for our gas and electric. Throughout the year Eneco (the gas/electric company) had been taking €89 out of our bank account monthly for the bill. Previous to July, they were taking out €134 . We don't know why they lowered the price in the middle of the year. A few months ago they sent someone out to read the meters....and that is apparently why we received this bill. The bill states we owe €1,700!!! WHAT?!?!? And they are going to just take it out of our account at the end of the month. If we have any questions about the bill we can a charge to us of 10cents per minute!??!?! WHAT?!?!? We are at their mercy.......So, now the monthly charge will be €291 a month!  This is for two people in a 1000 square foot house! We keep the heat set at around 20C (68 degrees Farenheit). We don't know how anyone could afford a larger house here. 

The weather has turned cold again I am back to wearing my UGGS in the house! It's so drafty in the house, we have to dress in layers inside!  (single paned windows). 

The use of checks has been gone here for about 10 years from what we've heard. So, when you need to pay a bill you transfer it directly to the separate accounts. The security on our PIN cards seems to be ultrasafe. We can't even check the balance on our account on-line without the use of a PIN card reader and typing in access codes. 

While going over our tax information with a consultant we found out that people here who have any more than €40,000 in the bank have to pay tax on it!  Not tax on the interest made, tax on the full amount!!! I don't know what the percentage is.....but that certainly doesn't encourage people to save money.


Andrew was telling me the other day that Dutch employees receive an extra paycheck once a entire month's pay!  This is for "vakantie" (vacation)!!! Europeans take their vacations seriously...being of the mind that it gives people time away and they go back to the job refreshed and ready to work. I like it!  Andrew still works a lotttt of hours, but at least he is willing to take a week off now a couple of times a year, and a day or two off at a time here and there during the year. 

While I was in the States I mailed myself a package back to the Netherlands. I received the package on Friday.......with €56 TAX due!!!  Luckily, I had cash (I usually don't have annnny!) and I was able to pay it. After looking over the shipping paperwork I figured out what happened. The woman at the UPS store had put the value of the bars of soap I mailed at $200, rather than $20!!!  Grrrrrrrrr......That is some exxxxpensive soap!