Archive for November 2012

I didn’t set no challenge…

Dear Gods, When I said my life couldn’t get more glamorous, it wasn’t ment as a challenge…

I was about to pick up the lid when, suddenly, the handle came off. The handle is screwed into the glass lid and the screw dropped in my rice. I managed to find the screw in the rice, cleaned it and put the lid back together again. I sent the above tweet. Little did I know the Gods thought I’d set them a challenge…

Only a couple of minutes later I grabbed a plastic container of goulash from the microwave. I should’ve known it was boiling hot, but I kind of forgot. I burned my fingers big time. Tried to place the container on the counter despite the pain, but failed to do so. Thus the container dropped to the ground, the lid flew off and the goulash managed to get itself all over the kitchen. The floor, the wall, the counter, the cupboards, everything was covered in hot, delicious smelling goulash…
Needless to say, with two cats running around, I had to clean up first. Dinner was served almost cold that day…

Genealogy

Ever since I was little I’ve been aware of my unusual last name. My grandfather told me our name was correct and in the village where he grew up and lived his whole live was one branch of our family that changed their last name as they found it a bit ordinary. So my grandfather told me. I’ve always wondered how we got our last name. I know it must have been around 1811 when Napoleon obliged last names.

Thankfully my ancestors didn’t come up with an awkward last name. I praised myself lucky with that. And in school, in history class, I got told my last name was probably german. Which posed all kinds of problems as the other kids decided this was yet another way to bully me. But maybe more on that in a later blog post.

When I was 18 I tried to find out more about my ancestors, but didn’t get very far. When I met my husband he was intrigued when I told him the story my grandfather told me. He wanted to find out more. So we went online. Luckily for us Tresoar, the Frisian historical center had put lots of archives online in the intermediate years.

I knew the names of my great grandparents and within a few hours we found out so much. We found out my great great grandmother had 16 children, of which were 4 twins. & children died within the first few years of their life. I also found out that my great great great grandfather had lost his father when he was just 4 years old. His brother was 2.
We also found that another ancestor was born 11 months after her “father” died…

These stories are very intriguing, but not as intriguing as the story of how our name came to be. In 1886 the first ancestor we could find traveled with the french army from Rotenkirchen in Germany to the Netherlands. He married a Frisian girl and they had 8 children. Their 3rd son married in 1819. But instead of his last name having LD in it, the official made a spelling error and he ended up with LL in his last name. His first-born son was born with that error in his name.

This, in a nut shell is how our name came to be. But the funny thing is that what my grandfather told me about the other branch of the family wasn’t true at all. But his believes (which he had gotten from his father) made that he never talked to the other family members. Since I’ve found out what went ‘wrong’ the two sides of the family are now talking to each other.

I’ve also found a cousin in the US. Her great great grandmother and my great grandmother were sisters. Three of the children from that family moved to the US in 1913. I can’t even begin to imagine how that must have been. I don’t think the two girls ever went back to the Netherlands, but their youngest brother did go back. He fought in WWI and WWII and, unbelievably, survived both wars. I sometimes wonder if he ever went back to see his mother and father.

I’ve told my cousin as much as I know of our family. I’ve found pictures that I didn’t even know we had. I’ve found death notices, names, dates, all kinds of information.

But what made me smile was a little note on my ancestors log from the french army (1886) in which they described how he looked. He was 165 cm tall, had blond hair and blue eyes. This might not be important to anyone else, but it is to me.

Floods in the UK

Every year around the same time I get to see photos and videos of flooding in certain areas in the UK. This year it happened again. The rain has caused flooding in many areas. And I’m wondering again, like every year, why is this happening? I think I’ve managed to find out the problem. The UK has almost no waterways, not canals, no rivers that can get rid of the water, thus it’ll get onto the streets and into the houses.

In the Netherlands every piece of land is surrounded by a waterway. We have so many canals, waterways and rivers we almost never flood. Even though we are beneath sea level.

I’m thinking: replace every hedgerow and dry stone wall with waterways and you´ll get way less flooding then now. Think about it!

 

OCD

OCD, just three simple letters. But it can have a devastating effect on your life.

Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce uneasiness, apprehension, fear, or worry, by repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing the associated anxiety, or by a combination of such obsessions and compulsions. Symptoms of the disorder include excessive washing or cleaning; repeated checking; extreme hoarding; preoccupation with sexual, violent or religious thoughts; relationship-related obsessions; aversion to particular numbers; and nervous rituals, such as opening and closing a door a certain number of times before entering or leaving a room. These symptoms can be alienating and time-consuming, and often cause severe emotional and financial distress. The acts of those who have OCD may appear paranoid and potentially psychotic. However, OCD sufferers generally recognize their obsessions and compulsions as irrational, and may become further distressed by this realization.

Obsessive–compulsive disorder affects children and adolescents as well as adults. Roughly one third to one half of adults with OCD report a childhood onset of the disorder, suggesting the continuum of anxiety disorders across the life span. The phrase obsessive–compulsive has become part of the English lexicon, and is often used in an informal or caricatured manner to describe someone who is excessively meticulous, perfectionistic, absorbed, or otherwise fixated.

Many people have a mild form of OCD. You have to perform a certain “ritual”before you can start your car for example. (i need to 1. close the door, 2. put on my seatbelt, 3. start the engine, 4. turn on the lights, 5. turn on the radio and 6. check the heating before I can drive off). Doing this in a different sequence will result in forgetting a step. Or you have to check if you haven’t forgotten anything before leaving the toilet. These minor obsessions are normal and easy to live with. It’s  becoming a problem when it takes over your life. You have to be pretty strong to overcome this obsession. Many times you just need help. So if you do suffer from OCD, please go to your gp and seek help. It’ll make your life so much easier.

Snert

Snert is the dutch word for pea soup. It’s a wholesome meal that’s very tasty. I make lots of it every winter and wanted to share my family recipe. This might be a bit different from other recipes, but it’s the way I’ve made it for many years. Make sure you’ve got a large pan, as this recipe is enough for 10 to 12 liters!

ingredients:

  • 4 L water
  • 750 Gr split peas
  • 10 stock cubes
  • 4 onions
  • 4 carrots
  • 4 big potatoes
  • 1 celeriac
  • ½ a head of celery
  • 750 Gr pork meat (with or without the bone, just what you prefer)
  • 2 rookworsten
  • 250 Gr bacon, in cubes
  • few bay leaves

Directions:

Bring the water to the boil. Put in the 10 stock cubes and the split peas. Boil it over a low heat for 2 hours.
Chop the vegetables and the meat into cubes. Pour in the vegetables and the bay leaves. Let it boil for another hour. Stir every now and then.
Put the meat (except the rookworst) in and let i boil for another hour. Put in the rookworst and let it boil for 10 minutes.
That’s it, your snert is done.

 

Just some tips

I really like to get tips from people on how to do something, make something or even how to save some money. Over the years I’ve gotten quite a few good tips, so I thought I’d share a few here.

  • Every store has a rotation plan for it’s items of offer. It’s usually every 6 weeks, but some stores do every 8 weeks. Keep a close eye on the leaflets and you’ll soon work out how long it takes for an item to go back on sale. This way I always buy expensive items for daily use (shampoo, conditioner, make-up, shower gel). Lots of stores do BOGOF sales. I buy enough to get me through to the next sale where I buy them again.
  • Are your drains clogged up? Don’t go out to buy those expensive drain unblockers. They’re bad for your drains. This happened to a friend who put in a drain unblocker. Just buy some washing soda instead. Put 5 spoons full on your drain and pour one kettle of boiling water on top. Works like a charm and it won’t cause leaks.

  •  Is your tube of toothpaste empty? Grab it tightly and swing it towards the ground a few times. When that doesn’t help, cut it open. You’ll be surprised at how much there’s still left.
  • My scissors are always on the run. I’m not sure how it works, but whenever I need them I cannot find them. So I bought a bunch of cheap scissors and put one in every room of the house. No more searching up and down for scissors. They’re always in the room where I’m looking.
  • And to make sure your husband or kids won’t use your very expensive sewing scissors to cut through something hard lock them.

  • Use empty tictac boxes to store ribbon, or small items.
  • Cut open toilet paper rolls and use them as a cuff for wrapping paper. This will keep it from unrolling.
  • Clean out an old lotion bottle and use it to store your car keys, your money and your phone while you’re at the beach. No thief will steal a lotion bottle.
  • Are your boots floppy? Don’t waste money on a pair of boot supports. Make your own from rolled up newspaper. Easy and cheap.
  • Freeze gravy in ice cube holders. When you need some, get them out with a knife. You can do this lots of things like wine or tomato puree. I deal if you don’t need it all and wouldn’t want to waste what you’ve made/bought.
  • And last but certainly not least, get an Pinterest account. There are so many great tips out there it’s hard to find them all. Pinterest is a great way to find tips with pics.

These are just a few tips. I hope they can help you too.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Thankful

This may sound weird, but I’m not going to post the 2 photo’s I’m really thankful for. Instead I’ll post another one of the same person.

This is my grandmother on her 90th birthday. She died almost a year ago, 92 years old. The last years of her life she spent in a nursing home. She had severe Alzheimer’s and recognized nobody anymore. This photo is how I think she saw the world. People around her sounding, smelling familiar, but no idea who they are.

The photo’s I’m thankful for are 2 I made the two days before her death. They are very private and I don’t think I’ll ever show them anyone else but my family. But I’m grateful for the fact I made them.

For more entries, click here.

Shop Etiquette

Since my previous blog post was on a very bad joke, that I’d heard many, many times before, I thought it would be nice to write something about shop etiquette. Most of the customers and staff behave perfectly okay. But there are some things that could be enhanced to make our (grocery) shopping a bit more pleasant.

Tips for customers:

  • Do not make obvious jokes to the staff. Asking a butcher if he has pigs’ feet/ears/nose might be very funny to you, but please, the staff has heard them all many times.
  • Make sure you have enough time to shop. If you’re in a rush, please stay away from the shops. Shopping costs a lot of time and nobody likes a customer racing around like it’s an F1 circuit.
  • Know what you need. You’ve probably been to your local store many times. You know the basic lay-out. So Make your shopping list accordingly. This will make your shopping less stressful, you won’t forget as much as you would when you have to go from one end of your list to the other. Plus, if everyone’s doing this, nobody is blocking things for another person.
  • Plan ahead. You know what you need. You should know what it would cost roughly, too. So please make sure you’ve got enough money on you or on your debit/credit card to pay for your shopping. It’ll save you a lot of embarrassment. “Oh dear… How much??? Uhm… yeah, I don’t have that much money. Can I put a few items back?” The staff has heard it all too often and will probably embarrass you even more by calling the manager and telling him/her just a tad too loudly: “Hey [name], my customer HASN”T GOT ENOUGH MONEY!” Yeah… embarrassing.
  • make sure you are in the right line. Is your line marked cash only? Or 10 items or less? Make sure you’ve got cash or 10 items or less. Nobody likes it if you make a fuss because you didn’t pay attention.
  • Don’t bring your kids with you. Yes, you read that right. Kids run off to everything they see. You can’t shop and pay attention to your kids at the same time. You’ll forget lots of stuff you really need or your kids might run off and pull on a display of glass bottles or run over someone’s foot with your cart. It’s very annoying to other customers, so just leave them home. It’s more economical too, as many goodies are placed on specific heights so kids will ask their parents to buy them. Not buying them will result in a tantrum many times.
  • Don’t leave your cart in the middle of the aisle and run off to get something. It’s very easy to do, but other customers will be annoyed by this very much. So, take it with you or push it to the side.
  • Don’t leave trash in your shopping cart. Now I know you’d rather not take all those cauliflower leaves home, but that’s why stores have trash cans. Use them. It’s the same for your receipt. If you don’t want it, leave it at the register. It’ll get wet, or it’ll fly away with the wind if you leave it in the cart you used. Or a bad person will get your details off it. There’s a lot of personal stuff on your receipt if you pay by debit/credit card.
  • Keep your distance. Nobody likes it if a cart gets pushed into your behind. You don’t like it either, so don’t do it. (I always sit down on the cart if someone does that, helps to get them away from me).
  • dress appropriately. Seriously, bikini’s are great for the beach, but you don’t go shopping in them. And don’t walk around barefooted. You really have no idea how many times there’s a broken bottle and you can’t expect the staff to pick up every shard of glass.
http://www.turbosquid.com/3d-models/f1-rally-cart-3d-model/485000

Picture credit to Turbsquid.com

Tips for staff:

  • Be kind to your customers. Ultimately, they’re the ones that pay your salary. Remember this. And while you don’t have to take all the crap from them, a polite staff member is 100 times better than a rude one.
  • Take pride in your work. If you are happy with how your store looks, you’ll be happy in your job. This will reflect to the customers. And happy staff will mean happy customers.
  • Dress appropriately. Seriously, nobody likes looking at your asscrack with thong. So hoist up your pants and put a belt around them if they won’t stay in place. If you are wearing an apron, shorts are not the right gear. It’ll look like you’ve forgotten to put on pants this morning.
  • Keep your distance. Customers won’t like it if you’re all over them. It’s nice if you are trying to help them, but don’t jump on them as soon as they are through the door. Let them browse for a little bit first.
  • Clean up your trash. If you are restocking items, make sure to get the empty boxes from the aisle as soon as you can. Customers don’t like a cluttered store and will buy less if you don’t take the time to clean up your stuff.
  • Don’t make jokes to your customers. Some of them might like a bit of a joke. But saying: “Wow, somebody’s got diarrhoea.” when a customer buys a value pack of toilet paper is not funny. So don’t do it. Please…
  • Make sure the isles look full. Half empty shelves are a no-no. Place other stock a bit more spread out if you need to keep the shelves neat and tidy.
  • Make sure your prices are right. There’s nothing more annoying than finding out you’ve paid too much when you’re at home going through the receipt.
  • Do not put a discount sign up with products that aren’t. Many customers might not find out, but there are some who do. And word will get out. Now, with social media, even more than a couple of years ago.
  • Do not put your reputation up for grabs. Seriously, bad news about your store spreads much faster then good news. Remember this at all times!
  • If a new register opens, keep an eye on who was first. Most of the times people from the back of the line push their way to the front. Very annoying for other customers who’ve stood in line longer. Also, see who has more items. If the person in front has a cart full and the person behind it has only a couple of things, get this person to the front of the line. It’ll speed things up for everyone.

I hope these points will make our shopping experience a little bit better.

The butcher with the pigs’ feet

I’ve worked in a butchery for quite some time before I started working as a nurse (from one type of meat to an other…). Many customers thought they were very funny, when, really, they were not. This story is about one very annoying customer.

Our butchery was located in a grocery store. My boss hired the butchery from the store owner. I only started working in this location a few weeks before, but had worked in another butchery for the same boss for years.

Customer: “Butcher, do you have pigs’ feet?”
Me: “No sir, but I can order them if you’d like.”
Customer: “That won’t be necessary.” And he leaves.
A few days later, the same thing happens again. And it keeps happening twice a week for the next 3 months. Every time it’s the same customer. I try to keep being polite, but my answer shortens to a sighed “No”.

After 3 months of this obvious joke, which I’m not going to get along with, I’ve had enough. I decide to play my own joke. I call our supplier and ask for a pair of off-cut pigs’ feet. I explain why I need them and ask if they can provide a pair that can’t be sold for free. The supplier agrees. So the next morning, along with the rest of our order, a pair of pigs’ feet, neatly wrapped in foil, is delivered. I can see they’re no off-cuts, just beautiful pigs’ feet. But the receipt says I got them for free, so I’m happy with that. I place them on the counter and wait for the customer to show up.

When he does the usual game begins again.
Customer: “Butcher, do you have pigs’ feet?”
Me: “As a matter of fact, I’ve got them right… Here.”
I hold up the package containing the two pig’s feet. I make my way around the counter and practically push the feet in his face. He shreaks and tries to run off.
Me: “I ordered them especially for you, since you’re coming here twice weeks for the last three months. And every time you say you don’t want them…” By this time I’ve got him cornered.
Me: “…But since you keep asking for them I’ve gone ahead and ordered them for you.”
Customer: “But I…I… I don’t want them. It was a joke.”
Me: “A joke… Geez, how funny is that. Harrasing a butcher for three months. What a joke.”
Customer: “I thought it was funny, but you never said the right answer.”
Me: “You thought it was okay to come in here twice a week. To ask me every time if I had pig’s feet? For three months? You think that’s funny?”
By this time there’s a nice crowd watching. And I think the time is right to make my final move. I shove the pig’s feet in his jacket.
Me: “Now get out and take your damn pigs’ feet with you!”

The customer practically runs from the store. The package falls on the ground and I grab the package. I calmly walk around the counter again, while lots of the people who watched start laughing at this ridiculous guy.

Another customer comes up to me and asks for the package. She says she remembers her mother making soup from it and would really like to buy them. I give her the package and insist she takes it for free. I then go and grab a cup of tea. When I come back there’s a note and a tablet of my favourite chocolate on the counter.

I’ve gone ahead and asked around what you’re favourite chocolate was. I figured you needed it after all those months of trolling.

My faith in humanity got restored a bit by that note.

Macaroon Pudding

Mrs. L. was a tiny woman who came to live in the nursing home where I worked after her husband couldn’t cope with her Alzheimer’s anymore. When she came in she was walking, but within a few months she was in bed, unable to get out, stand or walk. She was lying in a fetal position most of the time. It was very sad to see her like that, with her husband on the side of the bed most days.

Mrs. L. rapidly deteriorated and eventually she couldn’t do anything herself anymore. She began to bite, scratch and pinch when she was unable to tell us what she wanted. She couldn’t talk anymore, couldn’t find any words. And we thought she didn’t understand us most of the time. I can’t even count the times I had bruises on my arms and hands. A coworker had to walk around with a black eye for a week when Mrs. L. managed to hit her full on the eye.

This particular sunday I was giving Mrs. L. her food. Despite being a tiny woman, she could eat loads and always enjoyed her food. At least, that’s what I thought. On the menu was chicken soup, meatloaf, cooked potatoes with carrots and macaroon pudding. Up until now I’d always told Mrs. L. what I was giving her, but I never ever felt like she understood what I was saying. So I decided I could get away with not telling her.

“Here’s your soup, Mina.” I said while I held the spoon in front of her face. She opened her mouth and the soup went down in no time. The meatloaf followed, as did the carrots. By the time I wanted to give her the pudding Mrs. L. tried to grab the spoon. I gently put her hands under the duvet as I really didn’t want to change the bedding again. I’d already done it that morning when she managed to grab the spoon with porridge while I looked to her roommate for a moment. Mrs. L. got angry and tried to pinch me. I tucked in the duvet so she couldn’t grab my hands or any other part of my body she wanted to grab.

“Open wide, Mina.” I told her. But Mrs. L. kept her mouth shut. I tried again. “Mina, it’s your pudding.” Still nothing. I could see she was getting tired and not only did she keep her mouth shut, her eyes were glazing over as well. I had to get that pudding in fast or else she wouldn’t get any pudding at all. So I tried one last time. “Come on, Mina, you won’t get any if you don’t open your mouth.”

And she did open her mouth. Then it happened…
Mrs. L. took one spoonful of macaroon pudding, opened her eyes and said: “Oh delicious, macaroon pudding.”

From that moment I always told Mrs. L. what I was feeding her. And when I found a portion of macaroon pudding lying around in the fridge I always took time to give her some. Even if it wasn’t time for food.