Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Family Drama


The Netherlands was recently rocked with family dramas when two families, which happened 1 week apart from each other, fell under the bloody and deadly hands of their own father.

Forensics busy at the Hilversum house where the murder took place and two of the three bodies found in Brabants municipality Alphen-Chaam.

April 16 Saturday: was the day when Hilversum went still and mourned. Hilversum is a charming suburb known for its international expatriate community. The father, a 46 years old head police agent, killed his 42 year old wife and his three sons, ages 3, 6 and 8. After he took their lives, using his service pistol, he ended his too.

April 11 Monday: a 31 year old mother (she was an elementary school teacher) from Zoetermer together with her two daughters, ages 3 and 5 were reported missing. On 22 April, Friday, the husband and father of the two children who reported the missing incident confessed to the killing. He said he killed them a few weeks ago in 6 April. He lead the authorities to Alphen-Chaam where he buried their bodies. He is currently under police custody.


Motives of both killings are still unknown.

Both communities, Hilversum and Zoetermeer are still reeling in shock from the horrible news. Neighbors were said to have seen father and sons taking pictures of a nearby road construction the day before the upsetting incident took place in Hilversum. Co-teachers and children in the Roman Catholic school in Zoetermeer could not understand the atrocities. No one knew if there were internal relationship-family conflicts.

To the outside eye, they were seen as normal families… almost a perfect family.


Children in the affected municipalities are currently undergoing professional psychological help in their respective schools. Parents and teachers alike are riddled on what explanations to give to their children, why a dreadful thing like this can happen. The police on the other hand are extra careful of giving not too much or too much information, all because of the reasons listed above.

What will you say to your child, who, let’s say, is a classmate of one of the slain children, ask this? “Mom, what did they do bad that their Daddy killed them?” and worse… “Daddy won’t do anything like that, right Mom?” Tragic is it, but how can a father (and in this case 2 fathers), with their own two hands, kill their own family in cold blood?

Earlier this year too: a mother also killed her own two children, thereafter she fled to the nearby train tracks and jumped at the first opportunity when a train passed by. She died instantly.


***

Revolting events such as these have negative impact on the society. It would be naive to think that there are no families out there who do not have on-going marital problems. With news like these hitting the TV, it can only further cultivate and confirm perhaps the following premises:

1. Heighten emotional battle between partners, or husband and wife
2. Escalate any marital issue towards complexity
3. Give evil ideas
4. Plant fear on the children’s minds

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Cuisine Magazine


It has been a week already of -ribbing on- with my feminine side, well I am a woman, so there’s got to be some way of releasing the strangled and suppressed femme endorphins in my system.
Next week, I will start again my rants about them Dutch *wicked grin*. They are an interesting subject, so stay tuned.

Bedankt! (Thanks!)

The stacks of Cuisine magazine under my living room center table. The magazine is pure gourmet, I relish on it.

I would like to thank my good friend Chef Doll from NZ. She gave me a 2 year CUISINE magazine subscription as a birthday and christmas all-in-one gift a year ago. It’s a quarterly magazine boasting the slogan of: food, wine, & good living and filled with all the desired goodies a woman who loves to cook and enjoy life can muster.


I don’t really follow recipes, I am not the down to the last morsel of ingredient from the recipe book girl. I prefer originality --but I do admit, I check food pictures and use the visuals as aids in my food experiments. Or when dining in the restaurant, I pay close attention to the mix and the taste of the food. If I like it, the copycat in me goes challenged at home, hehe.

I guess others do that as well?

(Foto's updated in Travel Flashback, Dutch Sneak Preview, and What's in My Kitchen)

Friday, April 22, 2005

Holiday Nostalgia


I had those one of those days attacks today: nostalgia and this time it’s over Greece and the Philippines.

I daydreamt sitting in the car with the Dutchman holding a map and wandering around in the little charmant villages. It didn’t that we got lost (we actually did, a couple of times), or sitting idly by the Malia coastline under the warm sun reading a book or just watching people go by, or walking in the busy streets of Makati, enveloped in the hustle and bustle of the city not minding that the air is actually not fit for breathing, or driving in the roads of Cebu City and everywhere I turn to, I get lost because so much has changed.

This is me in Manila’s Centennial Airport (PAL/Philippine Airlines exclusive airport, *sarcasm on* DUH, I don’t understand this, anyone care to explain? *sarcasm off*) last December 2004 before we boarded going to Cebu.

I wish someone waves a magic wand and transplant me from the couch where I am sitting to the picture above. SIGH. Are you there genie in the bottle?

I don’t know but I have this nagging feeling today to just get away from the routine Dutch life.


Maybe it’s time to go on a vacation....

Thing is, we still do not know which country to vacation to this summer. I am thinking of Brazil, yeah Rio de Janeiro... and earlier, the Dutchman told me that he wanted to go to Japan. But, I don’t have my Dutch passport yet, I can only ask for it in August and we do not know how fast the visa application takes.

Argh, I hate going through the visa red tape with these embassies. It’s just so much freaking hassle, costs a lot of my bloody time, money too. So perhaps we will just have to look within the EU for our summer vacation destination.

OK, I just ranted.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Revisiting the Canary Islands


Vacationing is an entrenched culture here in Europe, most especially with the northern Europeans, where they would travel at least 2x a year outside of their home country to unwind and enjoy life. For the Dutch, it is as anomalous as committing the most corporal sin on earth if you don’t go on holiday. Dutch labor law (I think it’s also with most EU lands) demands employers to give 1 month salary/holiday pay (+ a minimum 26 vacation days) to its employees every year, something like a 13th month pay that we usually receive in the Philippines, but here it is given on May, just right in time for summer.

So after a REALLY BUSY 2003, we decided to take some days off, with great timing, during the meanest time of the year – January 1 (entrance of 2004). Yes I will spell it out for you, during N-E-W-Y-E-A-R! Whilst everyone was busy popping champagnes, lighting firecrackers, and greeting each other to the tune of proost (cheers), we, with our luggage at 2AM, went heading to the airport to take the 5AM flight to Fuerteventura in the Canary islands.

FUERTEVENTURA, the island

Dunas (Dunes) in Corralejo

Fuerteventura is the 2nd largest of the 7 Canary Islands situated in the Canarian Archipelago in the northeast African continent. Geographically it is part of Africa, but technically it is under the jurisdiction of the Kingdom of Spain. The islands have a subtropical climate ensuring sunshine (23C) all year round. Perfect weather! It is also known to have the finest beaches rich with miles of pure white sugar sand. The inland coast has mounds of dunes, resembling like the chaste Sahara dessert. On the contrary, in other areas of Fuerteventura, the landscape looks like you just landed on the moon.

Dutchman and I stayed in festive Corralejo city, located on the northern tip of the island. From the airport, it takes an hour to get there by bus. It is here where you can find the beautiful white - gold sand dunes. I actually gaped in awe when I saw the mile stretch of smooth golden dunes formed like a menagerie of molehills by the shore. It is said to be the celebrated place for pictorials. I can imagine why! You have to be there to experience the bravura wonders of nature. Our Boracay will hide behind the counters.

A picture of one of the hotel wings with a swimming pool. Foto taken from Oasis Royal Hotel website.

We lodged at the Oasis Royal Hotel in Corralejo, a Mediterranean inspired resort with swimming pools sprawled in every corner. And perhaps with luck, we had the pool right outside our veranda. Dutchman couldn’t wait to disengage from his clothes! But my mind was somewhere else... something was chanting at the back of my head.... EXPLORE THE ISLAND...

The JOURNEY outside Corralejo

First on our list was Puerto Del Rosario, the capital. The city is called the Mecca of wind surfers. But alas, there was a religious holiday that day, jammer (darn), hence nothing in sight was open.

We proceeded to the town, El Castillo, also known as Caleta Del Fuste. There we had our hearty English brunch. I adored the place, exceptionally touristy, inundated with fanciful and colorful shops, attractive bungalows stretched out ubiquitously with palms serenading on each side of the streets, and just the laid back feel and the southern greets from these cheerful people makes you relax and say, “I wish this is everyday”.

After we have seen enough, we drove to Gran Tarajal, and further on to La Lajita and Costa Calma. What’s impressive in these areas are the “nude beaches”. Sipping sangria in the bar along the coastline watching passersby in their naked glory was truly a wild experience... worth telling! Duh, I saw THAT THING lobbed as he walked! What am I going to do? Look? Or look away? Pretend maybe and glance back for a second look? Haha.

Another thing that I noticed… most traffic board signs are no longer in Spanish but in Deutsch. German invasion…

On the road… taken between La Pared and Pajara. This is the only scanned foto so far, so bear with me. We didn’t have a digicam at that time. I will have to post in the future Canary islands pictures in the Travel Flashback section, well, when they are scanned.

The next stop was La Pared and Pajara on the other side of the island. We traveled through terrains of zigzagged roads atop the picturesque mountain ranges which are thousands of meters above sea level. I leered away at the cone shaped mountains, its expanse covering in miles has left me bedazzled. I have never seen so much beauty in brown!

It was getting late when we arrived in Betancuria, another captivating small village right in the midst of nowhere. Ah, it just gets better and better. Here, time literally stops. Old women can be seen walking along the streets getting ready to go to church. The old men were extending their siesta hours sitting in the tiny quaint cafes by the road, munching steadily on their tobaccos.


The charming Betancurian architecture with its mythical windmills, and just the distinct ambience of this sleepy town, has floored me. I wish I had taken photos of this village, but it was sunset, a drab time to take pictures (says the Dutchman).

Lovely Betancuria, where time stands still.... A foto I copied from the internet, hehe.

Trip to LANZAROTE Island

The nearby island, Lanzarote was just a 30 minute ferry ride from Fuerteventura. So what is best to do when stucked in an island? Move to the next island! We took the ride and got off at Lanzarote's Playa Blanca. From there we took the bus to Puerto Del Carmen, a busy touristy place with equal vivacity as Corralejo. Its beach coastline was swarmed with oodles of tanned north European tourists baking themselves like the sun will never shine again.

Puerto Del Carmen beach shore with throngs of beach beds, a typical scene in the beaches of Spain and Greece.


We then journeyed to the capital, Arrecife. I think it was here that we saw a restaurant called “Manila”. Dutchman couldn’t resist flashing the camera away while I stood under the sign!

Reminisce

Leaving the Canaries during the middle of winter is not exactly what any sane person would have in mind. When we arrived at Schiphol airport in -0C Dutch winter weather, I was in chills. My immune system was not strong enough to withstand the drastic change of temperature.

I filed sick leave at work.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Me and My Salads


The in laws came over, had tea with us (we had Darjeeling) and helped install the 2-meter silver mirror in the dining area.

While we were on the discussion of what’s for dinner tonight, we touched on the topic of salads. The Dutch father said that everyone in the Dutch family used to call the Dutchman konijn (bunny), pronounced as co-nine, because he cannot stop munching on carrots, lettuce and anything green. Upon hearing this, I wondered if the Dutchman had something to do with the last missing carrots in the fridge... hmm...

Thus, every time I make dinner, I always make sure that I make a bowl of green salad, otherwise the Dutchman’s evening will not be complete. He might have salad nightmares haha.

Here are some of the salads I made from the last week or two. The greens were almost the same because I normally buy 1 type of salad greens per week. Other times, I buy Romaines, Ruccolas, or something else.

Exotic Mediterranean

This one we just ate tonight together with our Burritos. Everyone loved it, including me, hehe.

Ingredients:iceberg lettuce, gala apples, pomodori secchi dried tomatoes, green and black olives, green bell pepper, spicy cervelaat (Dutch dried sausage) and cucumber

Dressing: natural salad dressing, extra virgin olive oil, and salad herbs

Mozzarella Greens

Ingredients: iceberg lettuce, cucumber, fresh tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese

Dressing: extra virgin olive oil, salad herbs, italian salad mix and a little bit of water

Red Garden Salad

Ingredients: iceberg lettuce, cucumber, onions, fresh tomatoes, and ripe big strawberries

Dressing: extra virgin olive oil, and natural salad dressing

Spinach Feta Mix

Ingredients: fresh spinachleaves, fresh tomatoes, green olives, cucumber, and feta cheese

Dressing: extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sugar (or honey), mustard, dash of paprika and four seasons pepper

Fresh!

Ingredients: butterhead/bibb lettuce, fresh tomatoes, cucumber, green olives, and olive oil cured garlic

Dressing: extra virgin olive oil, oregano herbs, and vinaigrette

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Great Finds


Blogs are personal virtual homes, so in this entry I will again indulge in MY personal girly shopping talk. Every girl wants to shop anyway and if you don’t, then there must be something wrong with you. I swear, ha-ha.

But I confess... I can be a shopaholic... if let loosed. Luckily so far, my rational conscience is always hanging around my neck.

Alrighty, let’s talk about the great finds we’ve had. An interesting subject for women, I guess not for men eh? Sorry guys, its still women’s time to gloat. So for the sake of girl-ness, all of you wimin out there, do come out forward and tell us your greatest find ever, from this year, last year or whatever year...

Here is mine anyway:

Wardrobe Accessory

This Chick on a Mission leather belt bag is the greatest find I ever had so far this year.

I bought this in Bijenkorf last January together with MadamE.
When I first saw it, I was like, “Oh, this is just so gorgeous!?” Quickly, I looked around and realized that it was the last piece. A closer look: 3 digits but 50% on sale, oooh... still expensive. We were thrilled, we hushed and giggled like silly little girls while inspecting our find.

MadamE was really taken over it, so I held on to it like my life solely depended on the item, for fear that someone else might snatch the thing.

True enough, while fitting the belt bag in front of the mirror, a few ladies noticed the leather belt bag and gave us their approving remarks --- in Dutch of course, Oh, wat leuk?... Ah, wat mooi, zeg!... Past heel goed bij jou, hoor!, he-he.


Me in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol by the BEAR (Madrid’s Insignia) and sporting the belt bag proudly, taken last month.

One lady was lingering in our area, and I knew from the glances she gave us, that, she was eyeing the thing steadily. Maybe hoping that I will return it back to the shelf? Hah! No way Dutch lady. Clever me, I bought it. Case solved!

Later, I told myself, “What if it was not 50% off, would I still buy it?


Hmm, a very hard question it is.

Well, true enough, the item proved to be priceless. It was not only a dazzling addition to my wardrobe and accessories collection, but it was also a very practical gear for traveling. With the belt bag, I can have all my personal items, i.e. passport, bank cards, money, smokes (yes I smoke! but socially), etcetera... even a tiny agenda can fit in there! Simply marvelous.


Plus, everywhere I go, I get these second glances and stares from everybody, lol. They look at me from head to foot but lingering on my waist --- the belt bag of course. A great find indeed!

Home Accessory

I love beautifying homes but save for my own abode, as it still is in the process, and if I may say, for a year already.

Two weeks ago I made this unique table arrangement. It doesn’t really reflect the spring season, instead, it shows more of the autumn mood. Spring is too colorful for me; I’ve developed a personal aversion towards sharp colors, unless of course if they are used as an accent, then it is fine.

There is something special with this composition though. All items didn’t come together in one piece, I put them all together by myself.

Our home has the same color scheme: White, black, silver, gold, brown and all the different hues of the earth.

One of my seasonal habits, that is, when I am in the good mood, is to recycle and mix things. The work on the picture on the left is a prime example. Some of these items are actually used and old, while others, are new.

Here is the composition:

(1) CANDLE: (the center piece), was given to me by my sister-in-law last January.


(2) IRON PLATE: I bought it two years ago in a kringloopwinkel (recycled/2nd hand shop) somewhere in IJsselstein for just € 1,50. I love going to these places, you can actually find diamonds in there.


(3) ACORNS: I picked them last autumn in the Utrechtse Heuvelrug forest during the celebration of my sister-in-laws birthday.

(4) DRIED LEAVES and NEST: I bought them at IKEA two weeks ago.

(5) OTHER DRIED DECORS: (there is even an Okra in there, look closely!), I bought them at Xenos last year, a cheap-y home kitchen shop here in NL.


Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Bubble Wrap and some Humor

Bubbly
When I am bored in the office, the BUBBLE WRAP serves as one of my favorite amusement and distraction. It gives me the pleasure and fills up the void when I have a doggone spiritless day. Can you say temporary bestfriend?

I would usually sneak into the warehouse, which is in the other building, hoping to filch some left over bubble wraps. The bad news: there is this Dutch bulldog guarding the entrance, and based on experience, he can be pretty nasty. The bulldog had a row with one of my colleagues last week because he took the liberty of opening a box, kind of like pilfering, without his permission. So I know better not to cross his path.

Hence, as stealth as a cat, I quickly abducted the bubble wrap laying in the warehouse table, fast before the Dutch bulldog sees me and roasts my small butt.


If you have the same addiction as me, then let’s play. Click the BUBBLE WRAP picture above... and do not forget to put the sound ON. 

I don’t know, but the act of popping each bubble makes my teeth gnaw in raw. My fingers would crawl and itch to nip the bubbles, haha. And the prick sound is like a lovely song to my ears. Strange really and when I start, forget it, I just can’t stop! It can become an addiction. Other times, I want to stomp on all the bubbles at once. The only way I can be silenced is when someone seizes the bubble wrap and ties my hands with it.

Dutch Humor
A commercial advertisement of a Dutch Optical store.


“And? When are we going to the Optometrist?” says the Advertisement
***

Swedish Humor
What to expect when applying for a job at IKEA… (the largest home furnishing store in the world).


“Make a chair and take your seat.” says the HR interviewer at IKEA.

For those who do not know IKEA, it pioneered the assemble-it-yourself-furnitures. IKEA products are reasonable in price and OK in quality. You can find their website here: IKEA

Keep in touch and follow me on Facebook: Travel & Lifestyle Diaries by Dutched Pinay Travels
Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

Sunday, April 03, 2005

BLUNDER News


While the loyal subjects of the Roman Catholic Church are still mourning for the death of their dear beloved Pope, the rest of the citizens of the world continue to labor and toil.

Let’s hear some blundered ego’s...

Blunder News last week: SPEEDING BLUNDER

Aha, another Flitspaal (Police Camera) under attack in the south of the Netherlands!

Firemen busy extinguishing a Flitspaal on fire.

The Flitspaal Haters Club is a big lethal and rambunctious group in the Netherlands. And I dont think you and me are going to stop them, haha.


But I do know many people who are glad of these type of news.

The Flitspaal Hater Club main objective: BURN and DESTROY all the Flitspallen in the country.

How courageous. These mean spirited Flitspaal Haters can make Football Hooligans look like sissy chickens.

Blunder News this week: BOOZE BLUNDER

The Dutch cabinet is on the roll again.

Popular mix-drinks such as Passoa Orange, Bacardi Breezer, and Smirnoff Ice are not going to have a rosy sales future. The irony is: even though they prized double than a beer, teenagers still want them.

My favorite is the Vodka Lime.

The government's new plan is to increase its price and lower down the alcohol content. The focus of the deliberation was about young kids getting hooked to these kind of trendy drinks when its alcohol content is higher than a glass or bottle of beer.

Therefore, the easiest way of controlling the issue is by putting additional levy on it. The solution is really classic, very European and typically Dutch.

An additional € 0,60 per bottle is currently underway in the discussion table of the Dutch cabinet, and a paltry additional of €0,02 for a bottle of beer.

Blunder news of all: OIL BLUNDER

“Crude oil prices hit record levels on Friday, with leading investment bank Goldman Sachs warning the cost of a barrel could eventually top $100.” – BBCWorld News

Oil prices have indeed risen: a staggering 30% this year, something the world hasn’t witnessed for the last 20 years.

Another difficulty that is over shadowed by its price increase is its “tight supply” versus a number of critical factors, to name a few a. global economic expansion (China for example) b. violence in the Middle East c. political ego tensions d. speculators speculating e. oh hello(?) OPEC? and d. the juicy Greenpeace conspiracy.

Oil is damn serious honey. I bet so too because our salaries don't sky rocket as high as this.

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