photoshoot don’ts

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I have to admit, these snapshots by Jordan Burch Photography completely and totally exceeded my expectations. While I had high hopes, I never thought something quite this special and this spectacular would be the end result. Joost and I couldn’t be happier with our photog choice and will certainly cherish each and every picture, til death do us part.

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But of course, behind every picture is a story… and… maybe a little… drama.

While Joost had his final training period in the great state of TX, I went home to Florida for wedding prep and QT with the fam. Of course being newly engaged, I had 1,000 (now that I think of it, more like 4,000) to-dos on my list and didn’t immediately plan for an engagement shoot (shame on me), until I met with my (then potential) photog. When she mentioned an engagement shoot, the timeline lightbulb finally went off, as I realized, once Joost was done with his training in TX, we most likely weren’t going to be together again in the US, until the wedding. After some scurrying about and race-against-the-clock type planning, we all seemed to find our way to the great city of Austin, TX.

Incase you have any upcoming shoots, I thought I’d share a few pointers (or if you don’t, hope you have a couple chuckles).

1. No facials 5 days prior to shoot – at first thought, a facial seemed to be a good idea (relaxing and rejuvenating, right). Well, unless you have flawless skin, the truth of the matter is, they aren’t. Great cleansing effort for your face? Yes. Great for pictures? No (unless you’re going for a red-spotted dalmatian look). Thankful for a little thing called makeup.

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2. Know you’re meeting point when being escorted by a high-ranking military officer on base – I wish this pointer was a completely made-up, bad joke. Oh, but it isn’t. Jordan and I were supposed to meet one of Joost’s superiors at a nearby Subway, so we could be escorted on base. Of course, the correct Subway wasn’t loaded on the GPS – how does this even happen? So, after visiting every single Subway in a 10 mile radius, we had the bright idea to drive to a Subway, in the next town, a good 25 minutes away. Excited to see someone in a military uniform, we approached his car and asked, “Hi! Are you in the Royal Netherlands Air Force?” The look on his face said it all and we quickly peeled out of the parking lot… Come to find out, the mystery Subway was 1 mile from the apartment we were staying in… and we were only an embarrassing 45 minutes late.

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…But, being late did result in some pretty awesome natural sunlight.

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3. Don’t climb big, heavy machinery (like Apaches) in short dresses – or everyone and their mother will see hot pink leopard things they shouldn’t.

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4. Don’t plan everything – because unplanned moments, might turn out to be some of your favorite ones.

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5. Don’t assume your man has something to wear – why yes, another mindless mistake. While I thought, “Joost bring everything you packed for TX” would allow for sufficient choices… Oh my, I couldn’t have been more wrong (seriously though, he packed swim trunks, yellow shorts and random tees – bless his heart). So, the night before our shoot, we arrived at the mall at 8:40p, and when I say I was running through the men’s department throwing shirts at Joost to try on… That’s exactly what I was doing. But hey, an 8:58p checkout resulted in a  J & W win!

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6. Some things should be planned – like bike riding destinations (especially when trying to stay “pretty” for pictures). We thought it would be a fun and very Dutch idea to rent bikes and bring a little of Joost’s culture into our shoot. Not sure when we decided to make the Capitol our final destination or how long it took us to get there, but all I know is, we did a lot of pedaling.

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…But when you do decide on your final biking destination, you capture sweet moments like this…

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7. Don’t have your photog fly out of an airport 75 minutes away from where you’re staying… at 9a… on a weekday – because even though you leave at 6a, you’ll hit big city traffic, go 3 mph for 45 minutes and make your flight low on breath and with minutes to spare.

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Come to think of it, my don’ts would still be my do’s… Minus the whole being late when dealing with the military… Not a good look. At all.

Until next time – tot ziens!

XX – Whitney

the 5th of december

Even though decorations have been taken down (sadness) and the new year is here, why not spread a little Christmas cheer in January? Besides, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year! So, hold onto your seats people, you’re about to get the skinny on the 5th of December.

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In my kiddie years, I always believed Santa Claus and his reindeer visited every single house in the world during the wee hours of December 25th (well, as long as you were on the Nice List). But, apparently he visits every house in the world, except those in the Netherlands, because they do their own thing – imagine that!

The Dutch story begins with Sinterklaas, Zwarte Piet (who is blackened by soot in the chimneys), a white horse and a boat. Every mid-November, Sinterklaas and his crew cruise to the Netherlands from Spain. From the time they arrive until December 5th, Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet can be found visiting schools, hospitals and shopping centers (unfortunately, Sint called it a day before 4p when I went to see him at the mall – bah humbug). On the eve of December 5th, children leave their shoes (or wooden clogs) filled with hay or carrots (for Sint’s horse) by the fire-place. It is said that Sint rides his horse, rooftop to rooftop, delivering a present and candy to all of the good children. On the other hand, those who have been naughty during the year, are at risk of being taken by Piet and have to go back to Spain to Sint’s house (which, depending how you look at it, is either really scary/weird… or pretty awesome). After December 5th, Sint, Piet and all of the naughty kids go back to Spain until the next year… and there you have it!

To keep things fun and festive for adults, the Dutch typically celebrate the 5th of December by giving a funny poem (which slightly makes fun of the person for something they’ve done in the past year) and a corresponding, handmade gift to whoever’s name they picked out of a hat.

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This being my first Sinterklaas celebration, I was a bit nervous – writing a poem, constructing a gift, remembering the “rules”, impressing these Dutch people – oh, and to make things even worse, I drew my future mother-in-law’s name! What is a girl to do? How in the world am I supposed to “make fun” of the MIL and score brownie points all at the same time?!

After much thought and careful consideration, I (or should I say Sint and Piet) chose to congratulate her on her new position and label her, “Queen of the Navy” – while also mentioning that due to her rank, I thought she was going to be extremely mean and scary (before I got to know her of course). Whitney for the W-I-N!

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For the aviator driving the same car as his mom –

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For the bridezilla (my gift was accidentally trashed before I had the chance to photograph, but I loved the poem!) –

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For the Coca-Cola obsessed Sjoerd – his very own vending machine!

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Until next time – Joost and Sjoerd will be cruising around in the mini car!

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XX – Whitney

new year’s day ((dutch)) tradition

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**HAPPY TWENTY-FOURTEEN**

If I could be anywhere in the world on New Year’s Day… it would probably be The Netherlands. Why? One word: oliebollen – followed by four words: most delicious treat ever.

This scrumptious dutch sweet makes its debut every year in December and can easily be found at all Kerstmarkten (Christmas Markets) and grocery stores. However, after the New Year, the oliebollen goes back into hibernation until the next Christmas. So, lucky me, during my December NL visit, arrived during prime time oliebollen season and was able to indulge in my first ever OB. I’m a bit thankful they’re only available for a month out of the year, or else I would soon resemble one of these doughy round balls.

I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it again – I have no idea how the Dutch are so skinny… but really.

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Want to add a little sweetness to your American New Year’s Day black-eyed pea tradition? Whip up your own OBs via http://dutchfood.about.com/od/breadspastriescookies/r/Oliebollen.htm – you’re welcome in advance.

WARNING – if you’re actually trying to stick to your New Year’s Resolution of losing weight, I’ll let you in on a little secret – the literal translation of oliebollen is oil balls. If you can somehow justify oil balls into being healthy, then eet smakelijk!

On a completely non-OB-related side note, I plan on keeping my blogging resolution and getting back into the grove! I guess you could say things have been somewhat of a whirlwind being back in The States, wedding planning, helping mom at the boutique, etc, etc, etc. But such is life and lets face it, whirlwinds are best documented (you know, for the memories). I do have to admit, I’m pretty excited to share the latest news, memories and picturesque moments with you, so stay tuned!

Until next time – I wish all of my S&B readers a happy, healthy and blessed 2014!

XX – Whitney

florida fall’n

While most of us Floridians are continuing to hit the beach in our bikinis (who can blame us with sunny skies and day time highs in the 80s), we still make it a point to welcome fall – the right way. Summer brights are stored until next year, while burnt oranges and warm tones take their place, scented candles fill the air (currently burning at my house – sweet potato pie – oh my), favorite summer-time fraps are forgotten thanks to the ever-so-delicious Pumpkin Spice latte, boots are worn with shorts, scarves with tees, and harvest-style festivals are in full effect.

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One of my favorite fall time to-dos is visiting the local pumpkin patch. While I’ve seen my share in FL, TX and VA, Holland Farms in Allentown is, hands down, my top pick and a must-visit for local families (funny how I can’t quite get away from Holland/NL/Dutch-ness even though I’m 4,000+ miles away). From picking the perfect pumpkin, to snapping pics in a never-ending sunflower field, to finding your way through the corn maze – there’s something for everyone and the details are none-the-less, precious. Hope you enjoy just a few of my favorite details from the patch.

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Until next time – tot ziens!

XX – Whitney

i said yes! well, kinda

It’s official! I’m a future M-R-S and couldn’t be more excited (but don’t underestimate the possibility of bridezilla making an appearance).

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Joost proposed on Thursday, September 5th and it couldn’t have been more dreamy. While I always envisioned an over-the-top, elaborate and public proposal (I know I’m not the only one), ours was intimate, personal… and perfect. I would share pictures of the moments following, but my face was streaked with mascara, makeup, tears and to be honest, it’s not a good look (so below you’ll find a next day photo opp). The moment I saw Joost get down on one knee and open “the box”, I lost it. Really. Lost it. In fact, I never said yes… but I guess the continuous sobbing, and once I regained control of myself, near tackling hug made Joost assume I, in fact, accepted.

Joost and I went ring shopping in both the US and Netherlands and decided on a jeweler in the states due to selection. Since he proposed in the NL, I was given a ‘temp’ ring that I now wear around my neck with his dog tags.

Butterflies fill my stomach every time I look at my left hand ring finger… I truly can not wait for the day that we say, “I do” and become one.

Cheers to forever and a day with my one true love!

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Until next time – I’ll be a busy bee planning a wedding!

XX – Whitney

the new hood

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Let me introduce you – this is Utrecht, my soon-to-be neighborhood as of December 2014. Now that I’m a bit accustomed to the Dutch way of life, I’m more than excited to venture into the big city, where daily explorations (& shopping) are obviously a must.

I hope you enjoy my little sneak peek, compliments of Instagram (be sure to follow me @whitneynixon17!) – I guarantee you’ll be seeing lots more of these jaw dropping sights in the upcoming months.

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Until next time – tot ziens!

XX – Whitney

bye bye, breda

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The past month has been a complete whirlwind and by the look of things, they are unlikely to slow down. On the bright side, whirlwinds bring excitement, new adventures and everlasting memories; while on the flipside, time flies.

The craze started the moment I heard my apartment sold. In a quick three weeks, I was packed, moved (or should I say stored), on the hunt for a new place and ready for my travel back to the states. My last few days in Breda were certainly bittersweet, as this cozy city introduced and broke me in to all things Dutch. It was truly the perfect place to begin my living abroad journey (not too big, not too small), and thanks to Breda, I am ready for the ‘too big’ city.

Stay tuned for a few more very exciting details… But until then, I hope you enjoy a few of my favorite Breda snapshots taken over the past six months.

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Until next time – tot ziens!

XX – Whitney