belgium brews, chocolates & waffles

DSC_0144

Feeling the need for a mini road trip, Joost and I spontaneously decided to take off to Belgium this weekend (and when I say mini, I mean it, as the Belgium border is about 25 minutes from Breda). When crossing into a different European country, you’ll find it surprising there’s no border patrol, flashing lights or police waiting to check your passports – it’s much like driving state to state in America. Many European countries are about the size of US states (fun fact of the day: Belgium is roughly the size of Maryland), so I guess driving through Europe is comparable to driving through the US, just with obvious differences, such as culture and languages. Speaking of different languages, Belgium has a few of their own. Half of the country speaks a dialect of Dutch called Flems, whereas the other half speak French (and apparently the two sides do not get along, but at least they both make great chocolate and waffles!).

Our road trip took us to the cute, cozy city of Antwerp (shopper’s paradise and second largest city in Belgium). When driving through Antwerp, you can’t help but notice the beautiful church planted in the city center – so it was a given that would be our first stop. The astonishing ‘Cathedral of our Lady’ was built-in 1352, although it’s never been completely finished, and the highest steeple reaches 404 feet high.

DSC_0001

DSC_0007

DSC_0024

While walking along, you can’t miss ‘the building with the flags’ also known as the Town Hall. Many sights of the city were blocked off and set up for a triathlon, so please excuse the random tents and car display. Joost and I will most certainly have to come back when the skies are brighter and no events are in place. On the other side of the square, you’ll notice tall, narrow and intricately decorated buildings, known as the guild houses. These were homes to the most skillful guilds of the 16th and 17th centuries and the beautifully gold crafted decor are symbolic representations of the guilds who lived in each.

DSC_0058

DSC_0047

DSC_0055

As our journey continued, we passed the cutest little cafes and shops – oh how I wish I could have delighted in the chocolates and waffles, but I’m currently watching my carb and sugar intake, so a warm coffee on a rainy day sufficed.

DSC_0033

DSC_0036

DSC_0012

DSC_0016

DSC_0010

DSC_0151

DSC_0050

DSC_0078

DSC_0093

DSC_0090

DSC_0097

DSC_0082

Before the light drizzle turned into a monsoon, we were able to visit the river and even on a rainy day, the sights were beautiful. The Port of Antwerp is actually one of the largest in Europe (believe the Netherlands and Germany are the biggest) and continues to be a solid moneymaker for Belgium. The ships, cobblestone bridge and beautiful views had me at hello.

DSC_0116

DSC_0122

DSC_0133

DSC_0138

DSC_0142

Hopefully our next visit will include sunny skies and warm weather, as there were so many things we weren’t able to capture through a lens.

Until next time – tot ziens!

XX – Whitney

29 degrees (celsius)

DSC_0003

Happy Thursday, everyone and TGIAF (thank goodness it’s almost Friday)! This week has been spectacular as temps have reached a high of 29 degrees Celsius (84 degrees Fahrenheit) in Breda – really though, it’s about time since it’s mid-June. So, in celebration of the sunny warmth, I pulled for my most favorite nautical wear and came up with this oldie, but goodie anchor dress from last summer. Adore. Can it get any better? Why yes, yes it can. No clouds in sight, I decided to take a chance and unpack my calf-hair heels (was really thinking I would never be able to wear them or anything of the like due to the very common and unforeseen surprise showers). Miraculously, there was no rain, only sunshine and smiles.

Well, I must go now and work on tanning these legs (as you can see, it’s much-needed – sorry Florida, I know I’m letting you down).

Clipboard01

DSC_0027

DSC_0035

DSC_0029

DSC_0055

Clipboard0

Until next time – tot ziens!

XX – Whitney

boys and their planes

Born and raised in a small town outside of Pensacola, Florida, I grew up watching (and loving) the Blue Angels. Some of my favorite childhood memories include boat rides with family and friends to Destin, Panama City and Pensacola Beach to watch their spectacular shows. I was always (and still am) amazed at their precise, flawless and suspenseful maneuvers, that leave you thinking, “did they really just do that… in a F-18 jet?” Knowing my love for the Blues, Joost knew exactly where we’d be this past Saturday as soon as I got wind of a Dutch air show… And he knew exactly who had dibs on the Blues cap.

DSC_0007

DSC_0019

DSC_0024

DSC_0054

DSC_0056

DSC_0059

DSC_0068

DSC_0070

Not knowing what to expect, I was definitely in for a treat – seventeen countries were in attendance with their best pilots, aircrafts and tricks up their sleeves (some which made me ‘ooh’ and ‘awe’, while others I could watch with only one eye open due to the ‘dare devil’ stunts). Aircrafts ranged from a Finnish F-18 to the Dutch Apache helicopter (apparently this is the only Apache demo team in the world). Shows were nonstop from 9-5p, but that wasn’t the only entertainment. The grounds were packed with open aircrafts, obstacle courses, military-style face painting, simulators and much, much more (of course I loved the apparel stands – the best seller of the day had to be the flight suits for kids (so precious), as every little one seemed to be running around in them). There were also a lot of ‘demo stands’, which gave a closer look at the Air Force’s day-to-day operations, training (the wilderness, water and snow survival trainings – oh wow), equipment and weapons used. At the different stands, there were representatives from the Royal Netherlands Air Force to answer questions and provide personal insight on the subject – which I found to be super nice and a great way to make a connection.

DSC_0122

DSC_0138

DSC_0210

DSC_0222

DSC_0236

DSC_0258

DSC_0259

DSC_0301

DSC_0410

DSC_0417

DSC_0423

DSC_0315

DSC_0356

DSC_0362

DSC_0365

DSC_0489

DSC_0565

DSC_0634

DSC_0647

DSC_0674

DSC_0667

DSC_0709

DSC_0712

DSC_0747

DSC_0035

DSC_0015

To not leave any team out, below you’ll find all who were in attendance for the air show, along with the 150,000 spectators (special shout out to the RNLAF, Italian Air Force and French Air Force as your shows were my favorites! Oh, and can’t forget the Italian announcer, whom the crowd and myself loved) –

Hawker Hunter, DHHF

C-47, BBMF

Saab Viggen, Swedish AF

Bolkow 105, German Army

C-1301, Royal Danish AF

MI-24, Czech AF

Red Arrows, Royal Air Force

SU-22, Polish AF

Pilatus PC-7, Austrian AF

Curtiss P-40, Fighter Collection

MIG-15, Fundacja Polskie Orly

F-16, AH-64 Demo and Launch Air Power Demo, RNLAF

F-18 Hornet, Finnish AF

Frecce Tricolori, Italian AF

Saab Gripen JAS-39, Czech AF

Patrouille Suisse, Swiss AF

Ramex Delta, Frech AF

Spitfire Formation, BBMF/RNLAF

F-16, Turkish AF

Patrouille de France, French AF

Jet Formation, RNLAF

DSC_0798

DSC_0679

DSC_0792

Happy 100th birthday, RNLAF and until next time – tot ziens!

XX – Whitney

differences v. 1.0

“What’s it like over there?” “What kind of food do you eat?” “What are the people like?” “What sports do they play?” As you can imagine, when chatting with friends and family back home (love and miss you guys!), I get a lot of questions. So, every now and then, I thought it would be fun to share differences – minor and major… and some just plain alien. First up – the grocery store!

Grocery shopping is a little different in the Netherlands… Ok, a lot different and definitely took some getting used to. Anytime I went to Whole Foods, Super Target, or Super Wal-Mart (I miss you all) in the US, I would pack my truck full of goodies (at least two week’s worth), as I loathe the grocery store and tried making visits as infrequent as possible. Well, not the case here. My every-two-week visit is now every two days (sometimes everyday), since my baby Expo was traded in for my own two legs, amongst other soon-to-be discussed reasons.

Well guys, let’s go grocery shopping – Dutch style!

1. Never leave home without your already-paid-for shopping bag – or else be prepared to buy a new one (or stuff your buys in your purse – I might have done this a few times).

DSC_0002

2. Well, at least I don’t have to worry about getting the “broken wheel buggie” (you guys know what I’m talking about!), because your buggie is now a basket. So, make every item you place in your basket count, as things tend to get a little heavy.

*The larger stores do have buggies.

DSC_0010

3. Come mentally prepared and focused, as everything is in Dutch – thankfully, there’s a convenient ‘Translate’ app available for download on all smart phones.

DSC_0022

4. Work those muscles! Things getting heavy yet?

DSC_0038

5. Tell yourself to just walk away…

DSC_0039

6. The Coca-Cola selection consists of Coca-Cola, Cola Light (aka Diet Coke), Coke Zero and Dr. Pepper… Consider yourself  lucky if you find a Mt. Dew or Vanilla Coke. Speaking of, will someone please mail me a Diet Dr. Pepper (in a can)? I will love you forever.

DSC_0042

6a. I wonder if I’m the only person who browses through the Coke bottles for names I know… Super excited I finally get to, “Share a Coke Zero with Joost!”

DSC_0008 (2)

7. Time to check-out! While the cashier is swiping your buys, you must also get to work and bag, bag, bag (during my first trip, I might have waited for someone to pack my things… and yeah, they never came). Also, you must be quick, because as soon as you pay, the next person’s things begin coming your way – who knew the grocery store could be so intense.

DSC_0045

8. Time to walk (or bike) home!

DSC_0049

DSC_0051

9. Invite your “Cola friend” over for dinner and, “eet smakelijk!”

DSC_0015 (2)

Until next time – tot ziens!

XX – Whitney

land of the unknown

DSC_0088

DSC_0044

Well my friends, hope you’re ready for this! S&B is making its way into the land of the unknown… the kitchen (and if you know me, you know this is literally unchartered territory). Not sure where the inspiration came from, but it was time to face my fears of burning down the apartment and get my Betty Crocker on. Starting simple was obviously first priority, so I decided on a Pasta Margherita (super simple + super delicious = a winning combo). Oh, and please excuse the random blue post-it notes – Joost put these all over the apartment to help with my Dutch (precious, right?).

DSC_0047

DSC_0057

DSC_0038

DSC_0064

From grocery shopping, to cooking, to setting the table, Joost and I had to cheers our Cola Zeros to a great time and great tag-team effort. While I typically don’t see him during the week, I think this was the perfect midweek surprise for the both of us and definitely look forward to cooking for my beau more often.

DSC_0107

DSC_0111

DSC_0115

DSC_0119

DSC_0123

Pasta Margherita

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 500 grams minced beef
  • 1 bag of mixed Italian vegetables
  • 1/2 bottle of Conimex Teriyaki/honing sauce
  • 2 boxes of Heinz Tomato Frito sauce
  • 1 bag of pasta (i.e. fusili or macaroni)
  • Optional – garlic, extra veggies, cheese
Directions:
  • Put a little olive oil in a pan and begin to cook the meat
  • Once the meat is almost completely cooked, add the veggies and continue cooking (we cooked seperately due to pan size)
  • Add teriyaki sauce
  • Add tomato sauce
  • Meanwhile, boil the pasta
  • Voila! You are ready to enjoy a delicious meal.

Do you have any simple (and healthy) dishes you’d like to share? Please do (via email or comment below)!

Until next time – tot ziens!

XX – Whitney

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

swan attack

DSC_0017

This weekend was a happy one, as I was beyond excited to welcome Joost back from a two-week training course – which felt like the longest 14 days ever (funny to think how quickly we’ve become spoiled with seeing each other every weekend, where it once was every 8-12 weeks). Along with the “Welcome Home” celebration, we also had Aspergedag 2013 on our agenda (family code name for the annual Asparagus Party – bet you can’t guess what we ate!). On our way to the party, I spotted the cutest little swan family and of course, a photo opp was totally necessary. Everyone seemed to be in for the photo shoot, minus the father swan – see ruffled feathers below. It would have been nice to know swans are a protective and aggressive breed beforehand.

Therefore, from this experience as well as the stork one, it can be concluded Dutch birds do not favor brightly colored Americans named Whitney.

DSC_0019

DSC_0021

DSC_0024

DSC_0027

DSC_0036

DSC_0047

DSC_0048

DSC_0056

Joost and I were surprised with beautiful (and healthy) blooms at the Asparagus Party – hoping I can keep this mini garden alive! Any tips?

DSC_0006

Until next time – tot ziens!

XX – Whitney