The 2012 Euro Cup is Half Empty

Well, that didn’t go so great. The 2012 Euro Cup Group of Death continues, and the Dutchman is an unhappy Dutchman at the moment. However, all is not lost. The Oranje play Portugal on Sunday. It’s time to settle the score after the Battle of Nuremberg in 2006. This is the famous World Cup match in which a record four red cards and an unprecedented 16 yellow cards were issued between the Portuguese and Dutch teams, thus setting a new record for number of cards shown during a FIFA game.

Disclaimer: Now before anyone actually thinks I know anything about soccer, let me go ahead and clear that up. I don’t. I mean look at me, I refer to it as “soccer,” not “football” or even “voetbal.” It’s just that when you are married to a Dutchman, you kind of need to learn these things: Like how to make kroketten and bitterballen, how to get used to Dutch “directness,” how to make a sprinkles sandwich, and how to accept the color orange when you previously thought it was such an awful color that only tacky Florida Gators wore it with their jean shorts ensemble.

This two-year-old kid knows more about Dutch soccer than I do. The poster of the Dutch National team poster has only been hanging in cute little Noah’s room for two days, but he knows all of the names of the players:

I think I need to take a lesson or two from him. In the meantime, I am sticking to the things I do know: I started a new sewing project. I am making taggie blankets for some friends with new babies.

While Bert and the boys get ready for Sunday, let’s all enjoy some moves by my favorite player, Wesley Sneijder.

Oh yeah, please wish me luck. I am going back to Georgia to surprise my Dad for Father’s Day and hang out with my family for a couple of days. So in other words, I am going to attempt to watch the Netherlands vs. Portugal match with my parents (two people who even know less about soccer than I do). This means I will be the soccer “expert.” What a scary thought.

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Dining High on the Hog

So let’s get the bad news over with first. The Dutch lost to the Danes today in their first match in the 2012 Euro Cup. Ouch. I won’t go in to a lot of detail about it; I really don’t want to have to relive it. I will say I learned an important lesson, though: I am so going to call our insurance agent before the 2014 World Cup and take out a new life insurance policy on the Dutchman. As much as he yelled and cussed out the boys in orange on the TV today, he might just stroke out if they play like that again. Holland’s loss might be my financial gain. Hello early retirement!

Just kidding.

However, all was not lost today. We headed over to the First Annual High on the Hog BBQ Contest at Whitehall Plantation on Lady’s Island. All the barbecue samples you could eat, beer, ice cream, and ice cold slices of watermelon; with all proceeds benefiting Lowcountry Habitat for Humanity.

Ladies and gentlmen, swallow an extra cholesterol pill, put on your stretchy pants, and get your plastic forks out because it is time for some ‘que!

We tried out more than a dozen samples of ribs and butts today from pit masters from all over South Carolina, North Carolina and coastal Georgia. Not actual butts, mind you, just a cut of meat called “Boston Butt.” We do eat some weird stuff in the South like fatback and boiled peanuts, and we put enough sugar and ice in our tea to make your cavities freeze but we aren’t THAT crazy.

The Dutchman and I thought S’Lowcountry Q was hands down the best barbecue. Their Carolina Gold mustard-based sauce was phenomenal. I know some barbecue experts think it is blasphemous to drinch the meat in sauce but I couldn’t help it. This sauce was awesome! I think other people must have agreed with us, too. When we went back for seconds they had run out of barbecue and the Carolina Gold sauce container was almost empty.

We even took Marley, our sweet old beagle with us. I think she thought we took her to Doggie Disneyland or something. People played with her and rubbed her ears, she got to eat barbecue galore, and all of this involved her favorite activity besides napping: riding in the car!

So how was it all? I think Marley’s expression during the car ride home speaks for itself:

Stick a fork in me, I’m done. It’s time for a nap.

 

 

Happy Girl

1. Top of the Rock: Inside the Rise and Fall of Must See TV by Warren Littlefield 2. Speculoos Cookie Butter from Trader Joe’s 3. Queen Elizabeth II

Summer is finally here! Actually, here in Beaufort, South Carolina, it has been here since mid-March. We really didn’t have much of a spring (or a winter for that matter), we just went full steam ahead into summer. And when I say steam, I mean steamy. South Carolina really isn’t much hotter than my hometown of Athens, Georgia. It’s just a heck of a lot more humid if you can believe it. Hello big frizzy hair!

Despite my bad hair and scary electric bill, here are a couple of things that have made me a happy girl lately:

I just finished reading Top of the Rock: Inside the Rise and Fall of Must See TV by Warren Littlefield. Who wants to read a book by a former TV executive? Not me really, but it discussed some of my all-time favorite TV shows: Cheers, Fraiser, Friends, ER, Will and Grace, and Seinfeld. This book isn’t going to become a classic or anything. However, it was actually a fast easy read.  It was nice to turn back the dial and get all of the goods from behind the scenes with some of my favorite actors and learn how these shows came to be on our TV screens each week. I don’t watch reality TV shows except for No Reservations and Housewives (I know, I should be ashamed to admit that last one openly), so reading this book made me long for the days for a place where everybody know’s your name; the doctor is listening; an ugly naked guy lives across the street; yada, yada, yada…

I stopped by Trader Joe’s the other day when I was in Charleston and was immediately drawn to the big sign that said “Cookie Butter.” It was like a beacon in the middle of the store with two of my favorite words in big bright letters: Cookie. Butter. What’s not to love? I also noticed the word “speculoos.” Granted, I only know about a dozen Dutch words, but I do know what speculoos means. Delicious gingerbread-like cookies with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger cardamom and white pepper. I grabbed a jar and brought it home to the Dutchman. The verdict? Stop whatever you are doing and go. Go now to the nearest Trader Joe’s or as I like to call it, the place to blow a paycheck on cheap wine and dark chocolate pistachio toffee. Grab a jar of Speculoos Cookie Batter and get ready to spread it on anything and everything. Better yet, why waste time with a vehicle for the spread? Just eat it with a spoon out of the jar when no one is looking.

Last but not least, congratulations to you, Liz. Sixty years on the throne and still counting! I bet Charles and the Rottweiler are peeved.

Orange vs Oranje

Alright, it’s that time again. Time to put out the flag, set the Tivo, and drape anything that won’t move in orange. It’s time for some Dutch soccer! Hup Holland Hup!

Now I am a Southern girl and I live for SEC Football. Football in the South is second in attendance by its faithful; only slightly behind weekly church services. I love my Georgia Bulldogs. Junkyard Dawgs, Herschel, Vince, Irk, Larry Munson, the Redcoats, playing ‘tween the Hedges, Sanford Stadium, Uga…need I go on?  I am pretty sure the blood running through these veins is red and black. I grew up with an English Bulldog named Georgia Dawg, for goodness sake. As long as you don’t wear orange (that means you Tennessee Volunteers, Auburn Tigers and, ugh, Florida Gators), you are alright by me.

However, I have come to embrace the color orange. Sacrilege!

I was raised to think: “Who would actually WANT to wear orange? Such a garish color, it will blind you if you stare at it a little too long!”  However, once my husband came into my life, I began to understand how significant the color orange –or oranje as the Nederlanders say– was to the Dutch. The Royal House of Orange, the Orangemen, Go Orange!, etc. Once I understood that this particular color had such a long, storied and proud history with the Dutch people, I began to soften…albeit slowly. Orange tulips from the market appeared on our table, orange earrings were worn with my favorite black sweater, and soon I began carrying an orange Kate Spade purse.

Honestly, orange is a great color…as long as it is for representing the Netherlands. It’s still a tacky, hideous color if it is associated with any rival football teams that play my beloved Bulldogs.

So, here we are, a couple of days before the 2012 Euro Cup begins. The Dutch flag is hanging up in our home and the bunting will come out tomorrow. The menu full of Dutch delights is being planned, and my Wesley Sneijder #10 orange jersey is in the wash as we speak. The first match against Denmark this Saturday is Tivo’ed and ready to go.

Go Orange! I mean, “Go Oranje!”

Learning Dutch with Sesame Street (I mean, Sesamstraat)

They say you learn something new every day. Lately for me, it’s been in Dutch. 

My world got a bit larger when I married a tall, cute guy from The Netherlands seven years ago. I never dreamed I would like chocolate sprinkle sandwiches, fries with peanut sauce, or own so many things in the color orange. However, it is all these things that make being married to the Dutchman special.

The first Dutch phrase I ever learned will always, without a doubt, be my favorite: Ik hou van jou (“I love you.”). The Dutchman taught it to me in the car while we were driving to have dinner with his family. It was a moment I will never forget, and it is the most meaningful phrase that exists in any language. I even have “Ik hou van jou” as my inscription on my wedding ring with our wedding date and his name. I also love that it is the only Dutch phrase Matt Lauer knows, too. He’s married to the Dutch model, Annette Roque.

Lately, I’ve decided it’s time to tackle the Dutch language itself. Believe me, it hasn’t been easy. Between the guttural g’s, diphthongs, and rolling r’s, it’s a tough language to learn. 

So in addition to working on my Rosetta Stone software and asking the Dutchman lots of questions, I’ve taken to watching videos on YouTube. I watch everything from news stories to videos about the royal family, talk shows to even Sesame Street. I thought I would share a couple of videos for you to enjoy:

Learn your ABC’s in Dutch with Oscar and Grover:

Learn to count from 1 to 10 with Bert and Bernice the pigeon:

And for good measure, here is a little Super Grover for you!

Dag! (Goodbye!)

Out of the Blue

Being married to a Dutchman has opened up my world to lots of exciting new things. Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet, amazing cheeses, De Toppers, cool bicycles, gorgeous architecture, and hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles that you sprinkle on toast slathered with butter–yes, you read that unusual combination correctly, and yes, it is really good).

So let’s talk about architecture for a moment. Specifically a unique representation of Dutch architecture, KLM Delft Houses. Between 1952 and 1993, KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines), produced 60 miniature blue and white Delftware houses that were given as gifts to business class passengers. These souvenir houses were modeled after Dutch canal homes and filled with Jenever, a juniper-flavored liquor (similar to gin).

KLM Delft Houses (photo courtesy Effervescing Elephant via Flickr)

 In 1994, 15 houses were added to the collection to celebrate KLM’s 75th anniversary. Since then, on October 7th of each year to celebrate KLM’s birthday, a new house is added to the collection. No.91 is the most recent addition, released October 7th, 2010.

 

Needless to say, I’m hooked. Since I decided to start my own collection, I have found people are mad about these cute little houses. According to the Wall Street Journal, even some celebrities are crazy for KLM houses: “Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez once requested a full set of houses as partial payment for writing something for KLM’s in-flight magazine, says Ken Wilkie, the magazine’s longtime editor. KLM refused because it only distributes the trinkets aboard its planes on intercontinental flights, and then only in business class.”

Luckily, thanks to eBay and some Dutch friends, I have 21 houses in my collection. However, it looks like people’s infatuation with KLM houses have gone from collecting and trading these miniatures to inspiring a street of real-life KLM houses in Amsterdam.

The Oudezijds Armsteeg was formerly a badly run-down street in the city’s red-light district. However, it has been given a new lease on life thanks to architect Kees Doornenbal’s “Out of the Blue” designs inspired by the iconic KLM houses.The outside walls of each building are painted in a shiny white to make them look like they are porcelain. The window frames and eaves are even painted in royal blue to mimic the blue used in Delftware. 

Definitely a place to visit next time you are wandering around Amsterdam!

Pepernoten and Chocoladeletters

It’s Sinterklaasavond! Enjoy your gifts from Sint and Piet, and all of the pepernoten and chocoladeletters you can eat!

(Photo from www.kennislink.nl)

In honor of the Dutchman in my life: Enjoy this funny clip from the legendary writer David Sedaris for an American’s view on Sinterklaas:

Sinterklaas has arrived!

Sinterklaas and his band of Piets arrived Saturday in Holland! While it was a rainy arrival for the man of the season, it looks like everyone had a wonderful time! It’s not too late to order your own handmade and Sint and Piet banner, so order today in advance of Sinterklaas’ arrival on December 5th.

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(Photos by www.sintinamsterdam.nl)