Posts Tagged ‘Netherlands’

Lugging, Hugging, and mugging on the plane

December 14, 2009

This Snuz fleece blanket is perfect for snuggling and snoozing

Covered in fuzzy orange with a pink flashlight thingie wrapped around my neck, I was quite the sight on our 10-hour flight to the Netherlands a few weeks ago. It was all in the name of work. I do very little product testing, although I get invites to do so frequently. I just don’t need more stuff lying around the house. But occasionally things appeal to me enough to check them out. That was the case with the Snuz Sac by Lug and the HUG Light from ShowerTek, both sent to me free by the manufacturers. (Color choices were mine. Can’t you tell?) 

LL Bean's LED baseball cap is a great grilling accessory

If I hated them both, I could say “Lug. Hug. Ugh.” But, OK, that wasn’t the case, so that was a missed opportunity. 

First, the light. As a camper, I’ve long been obsessed with hands-free lighting, and got a headlamp as soon as stores carried them. Later I fell in love with LL Bean’s LED baseball cap. Then along came the HUGlight  ($19). It’s a one-piece, hands-free, flexible LED light, 13 inches long when stretched out. I love them all. 

Diane appreciates the versatile HUGlight

The beauty is in its flexibility and versatility. When you wear an LED headlamp, you can’t look someone in the eye or you’ll blind them. With the lightweight HUG, you can direct the light more appropriately. Lights are at both ends and have three settings. You can also prop it up in a coil or cobra for a little mini table lamp, or hook it over something. On the plane I used it for reading at night, because I hate the too-high airplane lights, and for help in locating the numerous items I dropped under my seat. Glasses, pens, etc. 

Diane inflates her Snuz Sac neck pillow

Now, the Snuz Sac ($30).  Love the Snuz! Hate the Sac! Which means I should have chosen the Nap Sac ($28), which was an option. Here’s what they have in common — the softest fleece blanket ever! (It’s 35 x 46 inches)  Just looking at mine makes me drowsy. Touching it makes me cuddly. 

The Nap Sac has a little pouch with blow-up pillow and blankie. Pouch becomes pillowcase, about the size of an airplane pillow. Ta-da. Simple. 

The Snuz is a different story. The pouch is in the shape of a neck pillow, the inflatable type that every long-distance flyer must own. You take the blanket out of the pouch. Inside is a little blowup pillow in the shape of said neck pillow. You must cram that inside the sac. I didn’t like the feel of it, so reverted to my old, much-uglier neck pillow. The most annoying part is when you’re packing up. You take out plastic pillow, deflate it, then roll up and try to cram the blanket into a sac that is the shape of a neck pillow. Too many steps and too annoying, and who wants to carry around something in the shape of a neck pillow? 

Diane loves the blanket, but is totally faking it with that uncomfy pillow

But I loved that dang blanket and it is partly the reason that I slept a few hours on the way to Amsterdam (though it didn’t work a minute of its magic on the way home). 

I’ve never thought to bring my own blanket on a plane, but from now on, if I can afford the space, I will. I’ll put my Snuz blankie in a compression bag or Ziploc and carry my own ugly inflatable pillow, thereby making my own Nap Sac, which I should have gotten in the first place.

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Gefeliciteerd met je verjaardag, Thamar!

August 15, 2008

Thamar is my schoonzuster, or sister-in-law, and she hits the big 4-0 today! (Her name is pronounced TAM-ar.)

Thamar unpacks gifts

Thamar displays her talent for gift opening

While 40 is considered a “kroonjaar” (a sig-nificant year) because a new decade starts, there’s no hoopla surrounding it the way there is when Dutchies turn 50. But, heck, they have enough hoopla just celebrating their birthdays in the Netherlands. Not only do you always go out of your way to congratulate and even visit the birthday boy or girl, but also their family. So Gefeliciteerd met je verjaardag, Thamar! Gefeliciteerd met de verjaardag van Thamar, familie Kok!

Ecuador is located on the equator

Ecuador is located on the equator

Thamar, who works for the Dutch government doing land design, has a wonderful 14-year-old son, Valentin. His Ecuadoran father, Luis, lives part time in a home nearby and part-time in Ecuador. The first time I met Thamar and the rest of the family was in Tabacundo, Ecuador, where she did a college study abroad project, working in irrigation. That was in the early 1990s. (We were all visiting there when I met her in 2003.)

Valentin and Thamar in Surinam restaurant in Wageningen (Click to ENLARGE)

Valentin and Thamar in Surinam restaurant Duniya in Wageningen (Click to ENLARGE)

Now Thamar lives in Wageningen, which is known for Wageningen University (focused on agriculture), where both Wessel and Thamar went to school. Wageningen is also known for a bit of history. It’s where the Germans surrendered to the Allied Forces ending World War II in the Netherlands. The lesser thing Wageningen is known for is that it’s one of the Dutch words I can never pronounce correctly. You try.

Thamar recently became a first-time homeowner (Click to ENLARGE)

Thamar left the world of renters to move into her first house this past October. Home ownership isn’t as common in the Netherlands as it is in the US. So that was a huge achievement and the best birthday gift she could have given herself. We’re very proud of her! I’m sure she’ll get many visitors there this weekend, when everyone stops by to wish her gefeliciteerd. (I can’t pronounce that word either.)