Come Visit!

As I mentioned before, I was busy a couple of weeks ago, preparing the guest room by giving it a fresh coat of paint. As you can see from the before picture, the walls/ceiling were a light yellow, with the door, beams and built-in bench all a light shade of purple. A cheerful room, but a bit dingy after all these years.
Guest Room

Still loving the orange that we used in the living room, I decided to paint the room white and replace the purple with orange. It’s bright, sunny and gezellig! Plus, I figure the dark denim blue of the sofa bed works fairly well with the colors. I had bought the fabric for the curtain with this color scheme in mind, although now I’m thinking of possibly making different curtains, since we need to be able to do something with the side window. But for now, this is how it looks. Don’t you want to come for a visit?
Cheerful

Follow Up

I mentioned the red light district in town in a previous post. It turns out that our own house was once a brothel, some time before WWII.

Maybe I should reconsider sitting here by the front window. I guess it’s a good thing we decided against the red lamp we saw at Kikke Spulle the other day!

Interloper



Interloper
Originally uploaded by indigo_jones

I was sitting at the table when I suddenly heard a thump at the window and saw this cat sitting on the ledge, with it’s paws outstretched against the glass, like one of those Garfield dolls you can stick on the inside of a window. Luna, who was sitting on the heater, got quite a scare, as well. Thank goodness it wasn’t Lola sitting there, or there’s no telling the craziness that might have occurred. It was bad enough having her just see the cat from the chair opposite me, as seen in the accompanying video.

This is the first time that cat has done this, although René and Merian say the cat used to do it frequently when they lived here. Unfortunately, Pippo was out on his bathroom break and wasn’t here to tell the cat off. I suspect the cat knew that Pippo was gone.

Here’s video of Lola howling in protest to warn the cat off. No telling what she’d done if she’d been the one sitting in the window when the cat jumped up!

Bits and Pieces



Straight and Round
Originally uploaded by indigo_jones

I’ve been meaning to blog bits and pieces of the past week or so, but keep getting distracted. None of this is particularly exciting, rather just little observations and amusements.

The thing of most interest for us has been the fact that we FINALLY bought a light for the living room. Now that it’s getting darker earlier, we’re realizing a need for more light. My end of the dining table is getting pretty dark. With the new light, we’ll be able to direct more light onto the dining table now.

The lamp we bought is the one pictured here. We had seen it hanging int the window of a vintage shop on Voorstraat and it had caught our eye. We had originally been leaning toward buying a lamp from Nisha, a great little shop, but when we finally went in and saw this one, we just had to get it. Somehow it just seems right with the yellow sofa and orange wall and the salontafel (coffee table) we’re planning on buying. The fact that it’s considered vintage when it’s roughly the same age as I am is something I prefer not to think about too much. The lamp isn’t actually hanging yet. We need to get some little hook to help hold it in place and we also need a bulb, but that should be easy enough to take care of, we think. *fingers crossed* The lack of the necessary hook helped get €10 taken off the price, so we’re not really complaining. We still like the light at Nisha and we may yet end up getting that for the dining room.

Now for the bits and pieces:

  • Christmas is coming. We’ve seen the first Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet items in the shops. Blokker had various toys and candies related to them, as well as Zwarte Piet’s sack and Sinterklaas’ bishop’s hook. Pepernoten are in the stores, as well, and were out at Café de Potdeksel the other night. Kris has a bag of them that was being shared with his friends and he gave us a healthy handful as well. They were better than the ones I tried to make last year. ;)
  • In terms of completely random observations, we’ve been amused at the difficulty so many people seem to have with parallel parking here on our street, even when there’s plenty of space. Many people end up on the sidewalk, others seem to just give up all together, despite enough space for two cars to park.
  • We don’t go down the alleyway next to the house that often, so we sometimes forget that the vines grow a bit quickly. The other night, we got a little note through the mail slot, asking that we trim the vines growing down into the alleyway. At least, that’s what we think it said. We were able to read enough to guess that that was being suggested. As it turns out, I think the woman who wrote the note saw us the next day — after we’d already trimmed the vines. She seemed happy enough and friendly enough from the brief (Dutch) exchange. Well, she spoke Dutch, we nodded, smiled, said a few “ja“s and all went on our way. Sometimes we manage to figure out what’s being said, even if we don’t understand the convo word for word.
  • Speaking of Dutch, we’re getting our first lesson on Wednesday afternoon. It’s a relief to finally have lessons lined up. Even nicer that it’s through a friend and one-on-one (two-on-one?).

Dinner Plans

The View ...

We’re having R & M (the former house owners) over for dinner tomorrow night. G’s making his famous lasagna, which I’m looking forward to devouring! Unfortunately, the house isn’t quite as finished as I would have liked, but I guess we’ve done ok for having started from scratch two months ago. Maybe we can invite them back for dinner in the winter when things should hopefully be a bit more finished. M saw the downstairs part of the house a couple of weeks ago and was commenting on how strange it was to see the slight changes in what used to be her home. She likes the orange wall, though. I’m sure the bedroom will seem a bit different to them, as well. We have somewhat similar tastes, so at least it’s not a drastic shock for them.

As we only have the sofa and no coffee table (salontafel) or even other chairs except for the dining room chairs in the living room, we (I) figured now would be a good time to get a bistro table and at least another chair for the upstairs terrace. (The photo above shows the view from said terrace.) I know they used the terrace quite a bit, so it made sense that after dinner, we could all retire up to the terrace for after dinner drinks. We have two folding plastic chairs from IKEA, but we needed more, obviously. On the plus side, it’s the end of the summer season and there are lots of sales. On the downside, the good stuff is already gone. We headed over to Hema today to get a table, some chairs and a pan for the lasagna. We found a table, but we ended up getting only one chair. We’ll have to make do with G’s office chair to make up the numbers tomorrow night. We weren’t sure we were going to find a lasagna pan, either. They had one Pyrex-type dish, but it was a fair bit smaller than what we used to use. Just as we were planning on trekking over to one of the chi-chi kitchen supply stores, we saw a metal baking pan that is about the right size. We should also be able to use it to cook holiday birds, so it should turn out to be quite useful.

As we were walking down Steenweg street today, we found a small shop that sells British and American foods! It’s not a big selection and a lot of it is Duncan Heinz cake mix and such, but they have Ranch dressing, instant grits and liquid smoke. Still no Chipotle Tabasco, though, just the regular and the green one. My hunt continues.

Tomorrow should be a full day. I’d like to stop by the lapjesmarkt (fabric market) tomorrow morning to pick up some of the cotton canvas I saw last week. We also need to stop by one of the butcher shops and get the ground meats for the ragú for the lasagna. We also need to stop by the regular grocery store for all of the other ingredients, and we need to get the wine. We also should stop by the pet store and get dog food and cat litter. Vacuuming and general tidying up will also need to be done. I’m almost relieved that I won’t have to do the cooking tomorrow!

Success!

I just took Pippo out for a walk and as we were coming back and reached the area where all the cafés/bars are, a woman across the street from me was obviously looking at me and speaking to me. The usual moment of panic set in, but then it clicked as to what she was asking. She was asking if all of the cafés there were closed. (There are three all in one little area, including our local.) “Ja,” I answered — and quickly walked on. They open in about an hour and a half, I think, but I don’t know how to say that in Dutch yet. Why ruin a good moment!

I was thinking of going to the bar tonight to watch the next Netherlands football match, since Giovanni is in Germany and René and Merian will probably be there, but I think I’m just not over this cold enough to do it. My head is still congested to the point where I can’t hear well, and I’ve got a nasty cough. I suspect a warm, packed bar probably isn’t the best place for me tonight. Oh well. The way they’ve been playing, they should make it through this match and I’ll have another chance to see them in a celebratory setting in the semi-finals.

The wall behind the sofa has been painted orange today. I’ll post pictures soon. It looks mooi!

ETA: I spoke too soon. I just ran out to the grocery store to pick up a few things and on my way back — weighed down with a heavy grocery bag in one hand and a bag of dog food in the other — a man stopped me and started speaking. Trying to juggle the heavy bags and explain that I don’t speak Dutch, he then asked me in English where the train station is. At least that I could basically help with that, although I was feeling a bit flustered — and a bit ill, to be honest — and wasn’t as specific as I could have been. Oh well, I pointed him in the right direction. I’m sure someone else will help if need be.

That little walk to the store really took it out of me, though. I guess I’m still much weaker than I thought. Stupid cold.

De Grote Gele Bank

 De Grote Gele Bank

Our sofa finally arrived yesterday. Unfortunately, the whole not-being-able-to-breathe thing meant that it didn’t get put together properly until today. But today it is done! And comfy! Luna has settled in quite happily. She hasn’t moved since I took that photo half an hour ago.

Tomorrow we go to Hema to buy some orange paint to use as an accent wall behind the sofa. I picked up some paint cards when I was there last week, just for the hell of it, and we ended up finding the perfect shade of orange. After that, we’ll have to choose the right photo of each of the animals to convert to black and white and get enlarged and framed to hang over the sofa. The orange wall with large black and white photos was inspired by a wall in the real estate agent’s office. It was quite striking, and just what G and I like.

We’ve found a ceiling lamp for the living room, but might hold off for a while on that, since we won’t need it until August at the earliest. It’s never dark enough to need it, and we’ve got the kitchen light to guide us if need be. We’re still in search of a coffee table (salontafel). We saw one we really liked at IKEA, but unfortunately, it didn’t come in the blond wood we want to use, so our search continues. We have a tv/stereo cabinet for now, but it’s not quite what either of us was really imagining, so we’re going to keep looking and if we find something else, the one we have now will end up moving into the kitchen as extra counter/storage space.

The house is slowly coming together. Right now the living room and kitchen are filled with the boxes we shipped over. I’ll be spending the next few days sorting slowly through them and trying to find a spot for everything. Perhaps I’ll be making use of the new trash can we bought today.

Party Time

In On The Act
(More photos of Saturday evening at Flickr.)
Saturday was a colorful day.

Colorful language dotted the air as we put the bed together, although ultimately it went fairly smoothly. Certainly easier than putting together the dining room chairs. It’s nice to finally be off the floor. Now if only the sofa would arrive so we could completely move off the floor.

The European Cup began Saturday, with Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, Portugal and Turkey playing the first round of matches. We watched the first match at home and then went over to Cafe Podeskel to watch the second match. The bar was decked out in lots of orange in preparation for Holland’s first match of the cup — against Italy. Tonight. Despite the conflict of interest, we’ve been invited to the bar tonight to watch the match. They’ve promised no aggression through the first group round. ;)

Saturday was also night two of Night Fever, a city-wide party with bands and DJs performing at various locations throughout the city. Fortunately for us, one of those locations was on Lucas Bolwerk, the next street over from our house, and the street that runs in front of the bar. That was the reason for the pink wigs and other costumes on the bar staff that night (see above photo). A band called Sonic Groove played, covering a variety of songs. It was mostly soul, R&B and disco, so inevitably, there was much dancing in the streets.

Toward the end of the evening, as we were standing outside in the street watching the band, a man came up to us and introduced himself, explaining that he was a previous owner of our house! It turns out he and his wife were the owners before the people we got the house from. So now we’ve met the last two generations of house owners! We met his wife a little bit later when we had gone back inside the bar. They were very kind and friendly and said they were sorry to have to leave the house, because they loved it so much, but they had three kids and needed more space. They’re the ones who finished off the upstairs portion of the house and who built the kitchen addition. We thanked them for their remodeling, particularly the kitchen add-on!

Today we took a walk along the Oudegracht (Old Canal) and passed by the Neuwegracht (New Canal, built in the late 1390s), and now we’re trying to sort out our power and gas provider. It’s a bit confusing and complicated with choosing energy providers, who are separate from the companies that actually manage the service — or something like that.

Our stuff that we shipped over is still stuck in customs. They seem to think it’s too much to be simply household items, which is silly. It should hopefully be resolved soon. It’s not a major issue and our shipper is working on it. I find myself thinking now that I could probably live without half of the stuff I packed, but it’s much easier to think that way on this end than it is on the other end. Oh well.