Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hoorn (Part 1)

Hokay, so because I haven't blogged in quite a while, I have a huge pile-up of photos! And now I don't really feel like going through them all to arrange them in chronological order, so I'm crossing my fingers that my next few posts don't get too confusing and jumbled up.

Last weekend, Schrobbenmaster and I went to visit Moeder Irma and Papa Bert in Hoorn. It's a really nice town just outside Amsterdam, but oh my, I wouldn't wanna live there and work in Amsterdam because without traffic, it could be a 15-minute drive, but in rush hour traffic, it's over an hour! Geez!

(One could argue, of course, that we do live in Rotterdam and work in Amsterdam, which is an hour and 15 minutes on the road. But at least we have a clear highway for most of the route.)

We had the Saturday to ourselves while the parents were at a garage sale, so Schrobbenmaster and I headed into the town centre for some shopping and strolling.

I had to use Schrobbenmaster's grandmother's bike because it was the smallest. Regular Dutch bikes for my size are just too big and difficult for me! I feel like the bike is controlling me instead of the other way round.

At least with this old bike, I could actually touch the ground with my toes, and I felt a little more confident about mounting and dismounting. The only problem was... it's an 'oma fietsen' (grandmother bike) and like any bike, you pedal forward to move, but to brake... you have to pedal backward! Daymn, that sure made me insecure, not being used to something like that. I was so nervous that I'd pedal backward to violently and then fly off the bike! So it really helped that I could reach the ground (even if just with my tippy toes).

In the end, after the bike ride into town, where we went on some really nice paths with trees and stuff, I absolutely fell IN LOVE with this bike. I'd previously insisted on keeping my slightly-too-big bike back in Rotterdam because I'd gone through so much with it (read: fallen off, bruised myself, mounted pedestrian sidewalks and scaring people), but after riding this oma fietsen... sigh... I couldn't go back.

What the heck is going on with this picture??

Anyway, we walked around the town, which is really nice, and then we passed by a fresh fish seller and all of a sudden I felt peckish. No idea why.

We bought some kibbeling - fried fish pieces, more like fish nuggets than fish fingers - and they were really fresh and good. I had them with sweet chilli sauce (because no one here eats proper chilli sauce, bah) and we found a spot by the harbour and sat down to watch the boats.

That's a boat with some tourists making its way out of the harbour.

And then we saw some dude having a real summer holiday on his 'boat'.

He actually fit an outdoor chair onto his small motorboat! How cute is that?!

Anyway, I have to rush off now, bed beckons and (ugh) so does work.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The 1-minute revelation

Just like the strategy of some toothpaste makers who make the holes where the toothpaste comes out from slightly bigger than normal so that people use up their tube faster, the makers of the toilet roll we use in the office have made each square piece slightly longer so that they can provide the same sized toilet roll, but which will be finished faster because there are less square pieces.

Guess where I got this revelation.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Battling work and colleagues

Just a quick one to update my thoughts, and so you guys don't think I've disappeared into a cloud.

It's my second week at work, and ups and downs are normal. Won't go into detail at the moment - suffice to say that I struggle with a particular person at work who seems bent on ignoring me and being rude. I was incredibly pissed the whole of last week, adding in the fact that Schrobbenmaster didn't seem to think anything of it... but yesterday that person seems to have changed her tactics. Won't change my mind about her until her behaviour becomes more consistent, though.


I finished two artwork proposals for a campaign for teens and sex. I'm pretty happy with the result, and hope that we get chosen for the campaign so that I can use those pieces :)

And now I'm working on creating a (brand new?) visual identity for the NS Tryout Festival. We did the first festival last year and I wasn't in charge of the branding (not that there was much anyway), but this year, we want to offer a solid identity and guidelines. I'm pondering between being ambitious and creating a whole new kit, which I can be potentially proud of, or refining and following on from last year's work.

It's making me nervous...

(Why did I bold those words? Cuz I wanna be able to scan through my posts in the future and see what projects I've worked on :P)

Monday, April 12, 2010

New job! Making lemon tea, ordering pizza from Little Italy, buying a new sidetable, Burger King, and tour of our kitchen

Woke up pretty late today after a pretty late night. We decided to celebrate my new job by having some wine after dinner.

Oops, have I not mentioned I have a job?

Haha... that really slipped my mind until I typed it out. On Friday, Schrobbenmaster got the call that the NS (train company) had given the green light to the NS Festival in October. Last year's festival was the first ever, and I had designed the newspaper for it. So this year, Schrobbenmaster's boss wanted to hire me again for the project if it was approved. And on Friday, we found out that I got the contract!

Now I can spend some money without feeling too guilty. I ordered Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren a few days ago from the bookshop. Been thinking about it for a while but kept forgetting. I bought a copy years ago when I was still in Christian Fellowship with the Life Teens in SFX (my church), and it was so cheap then. Now, not so.

Anyway, as always, here are some photos to spice up your lives.

Schrobbenmaster makes fresh lemon tea when the weather gets warmer. He was inspired from staying with me when I always bought Pokka Ice Lemon Tea (which is really delicious) to cool down from the heat. Fresh lemon tea is better though. It tastes much healthier.

Taste-testing. Methinks the lemon in this first batch wasn't ripe yet. It ended up tasting a bit lemon skin-ny, although obviously there aren't any lemon skins in it. Today's batch is much nicer.

I met up with Schrobbenmaster in the city one afternoon after work. The sun was out in full force, beckoning all the European critters out from their homes and offices. Sitting in cafes and on the steps of the World Trade Center.

That is de Bijenkorf, an upscale department store. I like their food and stationery section. Made me wish I had someone to buy Easter chocolates for. I got myself a pack of sticky notes in the design of cupcakes though.

This is the 'shopping gutter' on the Hoogstraat.

That's me Foursquare-ing in front of the little Italian takeaway. We ordered two pizzas and hung around outside till it was done.

The shop next to Little Italy. Really nice exterior, right?

Schrobbenmaster took this photo. Not sure why exactly it interested him, but apparently this bike is higher than usual? Uh... I think he meant the horizontal bars between the steering and the saddle.

The call that told us I got the job!

The pizza is really cheap and quite tasty. Wouldn't say it's the best pizza ever, but still nice. Mine was €6 for a large size.

Yesterday, we went back to Alexandrium, the furniture mall, to take another look at the sidetable we spotted for the office. Decided to buy it because we'd seen hundreds and none were as ideally-sized and coloured as this.

We chose a different, more modern handle for the drawers. Sad thing is, we only get it in 3 months! :(

After looking in some sleep shops for pillows, we found one that seemed suitable. I don't know how to choose pillows, but I really needed a good one because my neck has been in torture for the past few months and I don't know how to cure it besides having nightly neck massages and getting a good pillow.

My pillow was a good bargain too, paid €75, down from €150 because the shop was closing and moving to another mall. Yay!

Before we headed home, we stopped by Burger King because I was craving proper fries. Proper, meaning, American 'french fries'.

Schrobbenmaster having chicken nuggets, which he described as 'potatoes with a taste of chicken on the outside'. Made him light-headed as well, but I told him it's probably because his body is not attuned to the bad stuff in fast food. I advised him to have fast food a bit more regularly :D

This is what they wanted me to sit on! How weird is that? It's like those bars they use in bus stops so that people can at least sit and wait, but uncomfortable enough so homeless people and hooligan youths don't hang out there for long hours. But I'm there to friggin eat, man! Why make it so awkward?

Took a picture of the poster for entertainment purposes. Oddly enough, the time when I was snapping this shot was the only time we didn't have weirdos standing or walking by the window.

We had a family of women just by the yellow bin on the left, finishing their smokes before coming to Burger King. The mother had purple hair and um... odd (to say the least) leopard/snake print boots, like we're still living in the 80s. The also smoking daughter was dressed okay, but she had the oddest body - I thought she might have been pregnant, but Schrobbenmaster said she just had a really weird body, Big, bigger, then big and then bigger. And the aunt, also smoking, had black AND white hair. Not streaked, but like a skunk sort of style.

Bet you wish I had waited to take that shot!

When we got home, Schrobbenmaster made brownies to celebrate my new job.

So I decided to take photos around the kitchen to show you what it looks like...

It kinda looks like curry, but it's pasta meat sauce :P

The brownies baking in the oven.

And to end the post, our handy portable radio/speaker next to Brad, our second basil plant (first one was called Mister B). Btw, if anyone's looking for a portable radio/speaker, this one from Tivoli Audio comes recommended as it's reasonably priced (we paid RM700 in KL for it, but it's slightly more expensive now with the newer models) and good quality sound for something so small.

Friday, April 09, 2010

5 year old photo and birthday video, Chicken Katsu Don, specialist liquor store and Markthal Rotterdam

When I was still back in KL in the midst of Operation Bye Bye KL, I had a dinner and drinks get together at my place with Bin, Thila, Tall Jac, Tequila Lin and Dan the Drinker.

Bin had shown me a photo and a video he had taken ages ago of me. He had always just transferred his files over every time he got a new phone.

This is of me when I was bartending in 789 and Bin came to visit. I remember making him some blue cocktail. Think it was called French Connection. This must've been about 5 years ago!

That's of my birthday at home, I think it must also have been about 5 years ago, in 2005. I'm not sure, but I think that might have been the year Sharry Berry made my birthday cake, a really awesome chocolatey... orangey cake? It was really nice!

Back from memory lane...

A few days ago, Schrobbenmaster and I popped into a Thai minimarket for the first time, close by our place. Finally, an Asian store nearby where we can get soy sauce and sushi rice easily! We always had to bike to Chinatown to get our Asian ingredients. It's not very far, but not that close either.

We picked up a small bag of sushi rice, so I decided to make Chicken Katsu Don.

You can thank Schrobbenmaster for the awful photo-taking. And I apologise for the pathetic attempt at Filter > Sharpen on Photoshop. There's not much you can do with a bad photo, right? Ah, when I displayed smaller photos here, it was much easier.

Even if that doesn't look very Chicken Katsu Don-ish, it tasted nice, okay!

We also stumbled upon a new liquor shop which markets itself as being a specialist store. Schrobbenmaster is looking for a specific sake which he drank a long time ago and has been searching for ever since. He doesn't know the name but has photos, which he emailed the store owner. Good thing frachely reads Japanese and managed to get the name for him as well.

The liquor store is really nice! They've made it look very old-style, vintage, Cheers-looking. I think I could hang out there all day.

And I thought MY phone camera was bad.

In the centre of Rotterdam, just 5-10 minutes walk from us, they're gonna construct a huge Markthal (Market Hall), consisting of shops, stalls, supermarkets, offices and condominiums.

They display the number of days to completion. Kinda cool. The Markthal is that big grey arch above the number 1885.

Let's just hope they do finish it on time, or that big number display is gonna be way embarrassing.

Just look at the silly Zouk Cafe in The Gardens, Mid Valley that proudly displayed "Opening December 2009" several months before, and when it actually reached December, then January, and then February, they just duct-taped over the "December 2009". How dumb!!!

And now I leave you with this really cute photo of my two dogs. I had gone out for a bit and they just lay at the door, waiting for me to come home. Sigh, I wonder how they feel now? :(

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

eenbrauw's birthday and the horrible Bagels n Beans

Last weekend, the day after Harry and Alejo's party, we had eenbrauw's birthday to celebrate as well. I think this is the most social I've been so far in Rotterdam, hehe.

Beer drinkers...

Separated at birth? Looks like Bert loves a good beer as well.

Displayed in full glory above the TV. Watching over everything that happens in the house.

eenbrauw has two cats, one of which actually fetches his toy. This is Fetch. Cute, but I still don't think I could live long enough to wait for him to fetch his toy each time. This is how it goes:

1. You throw the toy
2. He looks at you
3. He thinks for a bit
4. He turns his head
5. He thinks some more
6. Your eyes go watery from staring at him, waiting
7. He takes one step
8. Two steps
9. At the tenth step, he sniffs the toy
10. He sits
11. He sniffs the string
12. He picks up the string
13. Brings it back

So this is cat version of Fetch? Gimme an eager and excited doggie any day!

That's the more catty Scratch behind Schrobbenmaster. He fights.

Schrobbenmaster was hurrying to the tram so he simply pressed the snap button on my camera, hence our super white faces.

Then he felt guilty and took another one at a safer distance.

On Easter Monday, we went in search for a place that might be open. Over here, they get Easter Sunday and Monday as a holiday. Makes it extremely difficult to go shopping for groceries.

I know it's a pretty large picture to have to scroll to view, but doesn't it look like a form of acrobatics, just wearing shoes?

Our usual Bagels n Beans was closed, so we headed into the city for a stroll, and ended up at the Bagels in the Selexyz & Donner bookstore instead. Which is pretty horrible. Slow and inefficient service, and their friggin mochaccino tasted like cappucino, only with chocolate froth.

Not going back again!

Walking outside, we heard someone on a loudspeaker. Turns out it was some publicising event for Le Tour de France. It starts off from Rotterdam in July.

There are biking games in that stand, but not sure what people have to do. Maybe just bike the furthest. If you're having this sort of game in Dutchland, better be prepared for people to be sitting there playing for at least an hour before they get tired.

I think I'm coming down with a cold or flu. Ever since the sun came out in full force yesterday and we went for a stroll outside, I've been blowing my nose like mad. No, it's not hay fever because I had that before and this feels like a normal flu.

Yes, Mumsy Bumsy, I have taken my vitamins.