Archive for December, 2008


December 5, 2008


photo by Michael Zappa

photo by Michael Zappa

The 5th of december is Sinterklaas in the Netherlands.  In november, Sinterklaas sails in his boat from Spain (because thats where he lives…of course) with Zwarte Piet, his ‘moorish friend/servant’ (I had misgivings about the political correctness of ‘Black Pete’ but dutchboy assures me he’s dark from “cleaning chimneys…” uh huh).  This event is filmed by television stations and broadcast on the news so the kids really believe it. Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet spend the time before december 5th frequenting shopping malls and city centres, carrying bags of tiny spiced biscuits that Zwarte Piet chucks at children. Literally. When I spent winter there a few years ago we were pelted with biscuits everywhere we went. It hurt. Kids love it.

On the night  of Sinterklaas, presents are exchanged and I’m pretty sure this is where western countries get ‘secret santa’ from. A few weeks before, each person in the family pulls a name out of a hat and they have to get a present and wrap it in a meaningful way that represents the person receiving the gift. This involves sticky tape, glue, hammers, nails, carpet squares etc. The wrapping of the present is almost more important than the present. A poem is written about the person’s year, detailing all the embarrassing and good things they have done, signed from Sinterklaas & Zwarte Piet. If the kids are still young then they aren’t in on the-name-in-the-hat business – its all just Sinterklaas’ doing. They also leave their clogs by the fireplace and receive little gifts or chocolate in the days leading up to the 5th. It’s really sweet. Christmas is left as a family occasion with good food. 

I thought the whole thing was really bizarre when I first experienced it (I may have been a bit cranky about the unexpected public biscuit pelting…) but then I realised that the story of Santa Claus is even stranger. Santa Claus, being derived from Sinterklaas, lives at the North Pole, has a sleigh that travels through time zones, flying reindeer, and the ability to squeeze down chimneys despite being re-he-heally fat. At least Sinterklaas has a boat, a real place of origin, and is polite enough to knock at a sociable hour.

We celebrated pakjesavond (present night) for the dutchboy at home with lots of fried dutch food and opening of presents his mum sent us. We *ate* the biscuits. I know, I know. So untraditional.

Happy Sinterklaas. 

Anatomy is spelled F-U-N.

December 4, 2008


I found this image via Apartment Therapy Unplgged. The posters are designed by Jason Freeny, who also does gummi bears & balloon animals. Due to my complete lack of understanding of the human body I’ve been trying to educate myself *a little* before the information tsunami wipes me out in first semester. I’ve been using The Anatomy Colouring Book, a really daggy “Wow! Your BODY!” kids book, and one of Nursefriend’s old textbooks (from which I concluded that muscles on the head look like prosciutto).

Of the three texts, the children’s one was the most informative for me (I gave it four stars). It had large pictures, simple language and a surprising amount of medical terminology. I did enjoy colouring in (three stars), but I think need a little bit more knowledge of what I’m colouring in before it will sink in. So, considering my love of colourful, bright visuals, simple language and my reaction to head-prosciutto, I have categorised my learning style as “preschooler”.

In order to help other preschooler-esque learners out there I will periodically update this blog with non-conventional ways to learn anatomy. First up on Anatomy is spelled F-U-N is Anatomy Arcade. Check it out.

Thanks to Jeebs for putting me onto that one. If anyone else out there has a favourite anatomy learning tool please let me know. I’m off to find some kind of whack-a-mole game.


December 2, 2008

We have been living with my family for the last few weeks (okay, months) since we came back from Europe and, as great as it’s been, I cannot wait to be living with just the two of us again. 

Most of our things are still in boxes from our last move and I’m so excited about opening them and rediscovering our stuff. Who needs to buy new things when you can get all silly over the things you already own? 

In a few weeks we’ll be all about sitting around our place, with a few candles, eating our way through all the takeaway joints in our new neighbourhood. Oh, and the dutchman will be playing with his new (second-hand) Wii…

Hello romance!

Random acts of kindness

December 2, 2008

The new header is courtesy of Adrian at One Version of Things, who is, evidently, more talented than I! Thanks, Adrian. 

The waiting game is over and we have two sets of shiny keys! Not so much a random act of kindness, than a random happy moment. The apartment now has one chair, toilet paper, a plastic skeleton that my dad gave me when I found out I got into medicine and a huge Ikea print of Amsterdam that the dutch boyfriend fell in love with when we popped in to buy fabric (however ended up with gigantic print and no fabric?). We haven’t moved in yet and probably won’t until after Christmas but we felt sad leaving it empty.