Thursday, February 25, 2010

Interview # 8: Suzanne Miller

I have met Suzanne in the blogland (she has a photo blog) and had this idea of having her for an interview. I 100% agree with her about "Dutch Life" - except for stroopwafels 'cause I do not have a sweet tooth !

Please introduce yourself
Suzanne Miller, born in USA, in Europe since 1999, Amsterdam since 2005. Ever since I saw Amsterdam in 2000 I wanted to live here. Finally, circumstances allowed me to make the move.

And did you have to change your profession after arriving here ?

My husband and I have started a shop in Oud West, La Naranja, where we sell fine art from various artists, and traditional craft from Las Alpujarras, a little-known string of mountain villages in Andalusia. It was not easy, as Americans, to start a shop in Amsterdam, and we've truly poured everything we have into this enterprise. We got very lucky in finding a big space on Bilderdijkstraat with a beautiful historic storefront, which I think will be the next "9 Streets" type area. The 9 Streets started as a neighborhood of funky cool little shops, but I think it has out priced itself. Now only jewelers or eateries or chains can afford to go in there. On Bilderdijkstraat there is a growing collection of vintage and second-hand shops, La Naranja is between Jutka en Riska, which is very well known for Vintage clothing, and Turquoise, which has more oddities and trinkets. Around the block is Designers for Less, which has great gently used labels. The street is slated for renovation, and I believe it will really take off after that. It's just on the edge of the Helmersbuurt, which is the hot yuppie neighborhood at the moment. The other advantage the Bilderdijk area has over the 9 Streets is accessibility. You can easily get here by tram or car, which makes a big difference to people outside the center.

What do you like most about your "Dutch life" ?

I adore Amsterdam and I am fascinated by Dutch society and culture. I'm always trying to identify what sets the Dutch apart. I perceive an intelligence here that I find exceptional, and that, accompanied by a gentle spirit and sheer beauty, makes for a very intriguing personality.

I love that it is so easy to be healthy here. I ride my bike as much as possible. I am a huge AH grocery store fan. I think that place is amazing. They make it so easy to eat well.

The Dutch are very modest about some of their culinary accomplishments. When I had my first stroopwafel koekje I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. I made it my goal to find the best ones in Amsterdam, which I think are from the Van Muyden bakery chain! My next goal is to find the best appelgebak. It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it.

What do you miss the most from your homeland ?

My friends and family. Being away from them is the most difficult part about being an expat(Anita's note: true Su, I agree with you). Aside from people, I miss the stellar American restaurant service; 7-11 convenience stores and a classic American burger!

After years living in the NL, how do you see your birth country now ? With different eyes ? When I left the USA in 1999 Bill Clinton was still in office. The Bush presidency, Iraq invasion and Obama presidency have all happened since then, and the USA is a different country than what I left. My family and friends are in the USA, but my life and future are here. I do not feel very attached to the USA. I am very disillusioned with it. I believe in our Bill of Rights and our original Constitution, but I see a country that has fallen very far from those ideals. In the Netherlands, people are not in jobs they hate because they need the health insurance. People have enough vacation. They have enough time. When you have time you think things through and make intelligent decisions, and that is what I see here. I see a society and a country that is not rushed, and that is functioning on carefully considered decisions. And I see a populace that is very hard to fool. (Anita's note: Hard to fool ? I do NOT agree with you on that Suzanne ! See the blunder with Swine flu and Uruzgan... )

Cultural shock ?

The lack of service-oriented employees has been the most frustrating thing to deal with in the Netherlands. Examples ? The topper was when we walked into a rental car place to get a van for the day. We were the only customers in the entire establishment. There was a clerk behind the desk. He said he would be with us in a moment, and left us standing there watching him for ten minutes while he finished his coffee and pastry. Then, with no apology for the delay, he waited on us. In the USA, he would very likely have been fired for keeping us waiting while he snacked right in front of us.

What have you learned about yourself after all these years living outside the US ?

That language need not be a barrier to human relations, and that people are people, everywhere you go. Most people are good, and most people want the same basic things out of life. Sign language is more universal than you might think, and a sincere smile will get you just about anywhere.
Note: except for the last photo (with a stroopwafel, taken from the net - couldn't find the author's name) all the photos in this post were made by me at Suzanne's shop La Naranja, located on Bilderdijkstraat 198, 1053LE Amsterdam. Or check: . I am curious how Americans living in the NL relate to Suzanne's opinions and whether they will make any comments... Thanks a lot for your interview Su !

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Olympic FAIL !

Yesterday, Dutch athlete Sven Kramer (photo above, by Getty Images) takes wrong lane in 10000meter Ice-skating 2010 Vancouver and gets disqualified.

To elaborate:

Sven was headed towards the correct lane but his coach directed him towards the inside lane (wrong lane) so he changed at the last second and went into the wrong lane.
The coach messed up.
Tsk, tsk, tsk...

His coach Gerard Kemkers (above).

Monday, February 22, 2010

Please Rob Me

All bloggers and readers: take a lot of care with information you share on web communities. Three Dutch programmers have developed a very interesting site called Please Rob Me. Their purpose is to alert people about the dangers of Twitter, Foursquare and certain updates in the web - listing all those empty houses out there. Click here for more info.
A gente tem sempre que tomar mesmo cuidado com o que coloca em blogs e redes sociais. Eu acho incrível que algumas pessoas informem em blogs quando vão sair de férias e por quanto tempo, onde trabalham, o nome da escola do filho, e por ai vai. Twitter então eu passo longe. Criminosos andam coletando informação em web sites sobre a vida das pessoas para roubá-las. Três programadores holandeses criaram um site mostrando como é fácil descobrir quando um usuario do Foursquare está em casa ou não, listando todas as casas vazias em tempo real. Se você quiser saber mais leia o post da revista Época clicando aqui. Ou então visite o site Please Rob Me (em inglês) clicando aqui.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

"A Serious Man" at Pathe Tuschinski

Last Thursday afternoon I met a friend at Tuschinski movie theather. Ajax's supporters - and police agents - were everywhere, and the traffic a bit confusing. We had decided to go to Tuschinski because it has recently gone through renovations and the session was convenient for both of us.
The architectural style is a mix of Amsterdam School, Art Nouveau and Art Deco. Everything, from the façade to the interiors, give you a sense of fantasy, ilusion and dream. It dates from 1921 and is a true jewel right in the center of the city. It was originally exploited by Abraham Icek Tuschinski a Dutch businessman of Jewish-Polish origins who was murdered in Auschiwtz.

Shall we peek inside ? And then I tell you briefly about A Serious Man.
Ceiling, detail. The colors are always changing.

Above: reception. Below: some of the many lamps in the corridors.

Above: entree hall.
There are lamps in all forms and shapes: mushrooms, insects; Chinese and oriental style. They help setting a magic tone.
Above: corridor, detail.

Larry's neighbour shakes his libido
Minnesota, 1967. Two weeks before his son's Bar Mitzvah the world of physics professor Larry Gopnick starts to fall apart. Everyone is rebelling and he gets shit from everywhere. This is a gentle, good, honest man. Too gentle. Too good. Too honest. Too, ahn... stuck. Time to get serious, Larry !
(I found this a very jewish movie, and I left the theatre room with a lot of questions and no easy answers.)
Is Larry bedeviled ? 'Cause... All the truth is found to be lies and all the joy within him dies.
Poor Larry.

Jefferson Airplane » Don't You Want Somebody To Love?

When the truth is found to be lies
And all the joy within you dies
Don't you want somebody to love ?
Don't you need somebody to love
Wouldn't you love somebody to love
You better find somebody to love

When the garden flowers baby are dead yes
And your mind is full of red

Don't you want somebody to love
Don't you need somebody to love
Wouldn't you love somebody to love
You better find somebody to love

Your eyes, I say your eyes may look like his
But in your head baby I'm afraid you don't know where it is

Don't you want somebody to love
Don't you need somebody to love
Wouldn't you love somebody to love
You better find somebody to love

Tears are running ah running down your breast
And your friends baby they treat you like a guest

Don't you want somebody to love
Don't you need somebody to love
Wouldn't you love somebody to love
You better find somebody to love

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Heineken Beer Gloss

Not only during Valentine's Day.

Amsterdam Scenes

De Munt. These girls stopped right in front of me. What is this ?

Oh, I see. I understand it now.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

When I am not blogging...

I am taking pics for new posts.
I am enjoying Amsterdam.
I am looking for a job.
I do fitness.
- Among other things.

Galera, fui ali na esquina fazer umas fotos e ja volto.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Olives Bread [Pão de oliva]

Today I have a fantastic recipe: a bread made of cheese, wine and olives. Nope, it is not Dutch, but possible to be made here in Holland with ingredients easily found in the local supermarkets. This bread is very easy and I find the result magnificent. You will need:

- 100g green olives
- 100g black olives
- 500 g flour
- 4 table spoons yeast
- 5 large eggs
- 300 g gruyére cheese, grated
- 200 ml olive oil
- 200 ml white wine

Soak the olives in a bowl with cold water. Reserve. Pre heat you oven at 180ºC. Sieve the flour together with the yeast. Reserve. Rub butter in a mold and cover the bottom and the sides with baking paper. In a large bowl mix all the ingredients, except the olives, up to a homogeneous mixture. Cut the olives in pieces, add to the mix and pour delicately into the mold. Bring into the oven for about 1h, at 180ºC.

Fim-de-semana passado fiz um pão de oliva para curtir o Valentine's Day. Pão geralmente da muito trabalho, mas esse é facílimo e muito refinado. Copiei la do blog "Fango com Banana" e o resultado é mesmo magnífico! E a casa fica com um cheirinho de pão e vinho enlouquecedor, mmm...
O que usar:

-100g de azeitona verde;
-100g de azeitona preta;
-500g de farinha de trigo;
-4 col de chá de fermento químico;
-5 ovos;
-300g de queijo gruyére ralado;
-200 ml de azeite;
-200 ml de vinho branco seco

Como fazer:
Ponha as azeitonas de molho em água fria. Pré-aqueça o forno em 180ºC. Peneire a farinha de trigo com o fermento químico. Unte uma forma de bolo inglês e forre com papel manteiga. Na batedeira, bata todos os ingredientes, menos as azeitonas, até obter uma mistura homogênea. Pique grosseiramente as azeitonas, adicione-as a massa e despeje tudo na forma. Asse por aproximadamente 1h no forno a 180ºC.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

One Year Anniversary

Why is it so difficult picturing myself ?

On 13th February 2009 I started a blog. I was not so sure how I was going to manage it, when, how or why. I thought it could be a good hobby to relax and learn more about this means of communication. I never imagined that less than a half year later I would be meeting some other bloggers personally. I thought that only my family, work colleagues and some friends would be checking it. One year later... I discovered that  my family and friends do not follow/read it, some colleagues do. I am mostly read by other bloggers.

Things I do not like or avoid to talk in this blog: about my family in Brazil and in the NL, my work or work related aspects, things I dislike/had a bad experience with. Things you will see here a lot: photos from travels (Holland and Brazil - I avoid posting about other countries. Hey ! it is a blog a bout Holland, remember ?), nature, culture, interviews with foreigners, holidays, restaurants and recipes. Most photos (95% ?) are made by me. I try to give the credits of the other photos as much as I can.
Above: Edu, Gabriela, Faby.
Below, from l. to r.: Dani, Aledys Ver and Jane.

These people above are some fellow bloggers who have somehow supported my blog. Of course there are many many more who showed their appreciation, posted comments, brought critics, suggestions, and inserted a link in their blogs to mine. The above bloggers were courageous enough to grab a camera, go to the front of a mirror, make a click and send me their own photos to be posted here.OBRIGADA !!!

Update: Thanks also to  Lu Russa  for all the support.
(Check here my first post from 13th Feb. 2009).

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Where Has Spring Gone ? [Cade a Primavera ???]

Galera, os últimos dias estavam bem frios mas sem neve. Tudo indicava que a primavera pouco a pouco ia dando o ar da graça.E os bulbos em casa estavam dando florzinhas e eu já queria aposentar os casacos mas pesados. E dar uma super podada nas plantas do jardim e do quintal. Que nada ! Hoje de manha acordei e tchan-tchan: vi neve pela janela. Ou como disse a Marcella Madeira num e-mail: “merda branca”.
Saco viu ? Muito saco cheio. A neve já me cansou.
Ou e' o tremendo perigo de andar de carro ou eu vou com kids pela rua totalmente rigida e empedrada de frio trincando os maxilares a cada passo.

Folks, the last days have been SO *%$#! cold. Cold but ok - no snow. All the signs were indicating spring was slowly coming around the corner. My bulbs at home were already showing their shapes and colours and I was planning to storage my heaviest coats. And attack the plants in the back yard in order to prepare them for the spring sun. Pure ilusion. When I woke up this morning: tada ! Snow everywhere in the back yard. Just like Marcella had told me months ago: "white shit". Then I have two options: or slowly and dangerously driving with the car or go walking feeling the cold while pushing a buggy.

E de nada adianta ficar imaginando que no Brasil seria melhor que eu sei que não é. Nem tenho mais ilusões. Esse é o mal de ser expatriado. Você fica muitas vezes de saco cheio reclamando do país atual quando na verdade a Holanda é um dos melhores países do mundo para se viver uma experiência civilizada. Ao menos pra quem gosta de organização como eu.

It is a waste of time to start complaining and thinking that in Brazil it would be better now. No it is not. That is the destiny of an expat. And in fact Holland is one of the best countries in the world to live a civilized experience. At least for someone who likes organization - like me.

Todo expatriado, mesmo que bem sucedido, carrega muita melancolia e vive muita incompreensão. E quando eu volto ao Brasil caio na real . Vejo que muita gente famosa já morreu, quem eu pensava ser criança já tem até filho, que os hits que eu gostava são totalmente ultrapassados, bares fecharam e novas gírias são usadas. E olha que vou lá com certa regularidade – a base de cada dois anos.

Every expat takes a lot of melhacholy and inconprehension. When I go on vacation to Brasil I feel myself a bit tourist. I discover many famous people have died, people who I thought were still kids are already having their own kids, the hits I used to like have become oldies, bars have closed down and new slangs were developed. And although I go there with a certain regularity the surprise factor still keeps hitting me. (It is a good thing, I believe ?)

O que fazer então pra rir um pouco ? Alem de ligar muito para os amigos e família no Brasil dou uma olhada sempre que posso em sites muito visuais sobre o Rio e o Brasil. Lindas imagens, lindos posts. Estou adorando:

Rio etc.


I want to see familiar images I want to keep myself informed I want to see some colours and bare skin. I am loving now:

Rio etc. (images and videos)
Deep Brazil (English)
Rio Daily Photo (in Portuguese and English)
The Good Blood (in English)

Enjoy !

Above: downtown Rio de Janeiro portraited by revista Epoca on line on 10th Feb. 2010 "Mulher 7x7" blog.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

De Lage Vuursche

Last Sunday we called another family for a walk in the woods. Quickly we decided for Lage Vuursche a tiny village in the province of Utrecht. It is a part of the municipality of Baarn, and lies in the middle of the forest. Right in front of the parking place there's a midget golf and we spotted three horses in the fields. The children enjoyed them so much, of course lots of pics were made.

After some minutes walking from the parking lot there is this permanent open air exposition of wooden sculptures.
But well... while looking for intimate contact with nature you just do not get lost in your way. You follow the signs and the path stablished for your security and peace of mind. The path was muddy, but pretty easy. Rests of ice here and there, lots of freedom for kids to explore the nature. We have seen rendeers and lots and lots of rabbit holes. After a good walk we decided it was time for some drinks and searched a child friendly restaurant. In the photos below you see some of the local pancake restaurants. The village has 7 of them.

An empty building. Needs a restoration asap !

Above: another pancake house (pannenkoekenhuis De Vuursche Boer). Below: detail from a bike on the restaurant roof.

Above: this is what I call a genuine, 100% true patina.

The photo aabove and following below are from a pancake house (De Bosrand) with a large and round conservatory. We used the side entrance and asked a table for 8 persons.

The same old story: pancakes for the kids, a capuccino for me and beers for the guys. Later on some "bitter garnituur", French fries and Dutch cheese.

Lage Vuursche is very atmospheric, with a couple of little shops (2) - one selling home/garden decoration articles and another with gifts/clothes - and many pancake houses. Castle Drakensteyn, the former residence of Queen Beatrix, is situated just east of the village. The parking lot is large enough and for free. During spring it is much more crowded - and also much more fun.

Wanna know more ? Go to:
But then you need to understand some Dutch...