differences v. 3.0

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Well, you guessed it – today is Joost’s birthday, woo! And as you probably also guessed, I thoroughly enjoyed filling the weekend full of surprises, because it’s not just a birthday, but birthweek around here. In preparation of a few friends coming over tonight, I setup a fun and festive little table we’ll use for gifts and snacks (will be sure to share the final setup and other surprises next week). But nonetheless, I made sure Joost had a plentiful stash of his favorite Dutch candies for his three months in The States, Vanilla Coke (finding this in the NL is like finding a needle in a haystack), yummy – or so I hope – cupcakes (icing and all made by me!) and a few gifts to open. Cheers to 24, Yoshi baby!

Now, on to the Dutch birthday celebration traditions – some you’ll find the same, most you’ll find different.

1. Scratch happy birthday – it’s gefeliciteerd, which translates to congratulations. So when you see the birthday boy/girl, you say, “GEFELICITEERD!”

2. Let’s say today is Babette’s birthday and Babette has a boyfriend/husband – people would also congratulate her boyfriend by saying, “gefelicteerd met de verjaardag van Babette” (congratulations with the birthday of Babette). Interesting, huh? I would also like to think along with the congratulations comes presents for the significant other, but pretty sure I can keep on dreaming.

3. When at a birthday party, upon arriving you greet *everyone* with a, “gefeliciteerd.” Side note – at any type of party, you always greet everyone there with a handshake or three kisses and name introduction. Yes, everyone!

4. Next up – The Dutch Circle. Thankfully I’ve never experienced this custom, but it is alive and well in Dutch culture. The just of it – while at a birthday party, everyone sits in a circle and talks to each other… the entire time. So you might have the person next to you yelling to talk to the person on the opposite side and the other person next to you talking to a few people on the other side of you, all while you’re trying to talk to the person 5 people to the right of you. Sounds… awkward if you ask me (funny enough, I’ve also heard it called The Dutch Circle of Hell by those who aren’t dutchies – seriously).

5. It is also quite common to schedule different groups of people to come over at certain times of the birthday party (i.e. – family, early afternoon; friends, evening).

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Hope you enjoyed reading a little bit about Dutch birthdays!

Until next time – happy birthday, Joost and tot ziens!

XX – Whitney

for you

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As you, most likely have experienced, moving to another city, state, or even down the road can be quite exciting… and stressful. There’s the initial pack-and-move that, let’s face it, is 0% fun (ok, 2% fun if you’re a Positive Polly), getting acquainted with your new surroundings, “putting yourself out there” to meet new people (ahh!), and the list goes on… and on. So, throw in moving to another country with a different language (and one that will make your head spin)… and you’ve got yourself a head full of gray hair.

Since my initial move, 5 months and 19 days ago (has it really been that long?!), there have been awesome, good, bad, and badder than bad days (yes, I know badder is not a word, but we all have them). While it has been truly amazing to experience a new culture, new way of life and beautiful surroundings, there have been days I would have paid to hear someone say, “y’all”, in a sweet southern accent… or donated a kidney for a plentiful American helping of collard greens, black-eyed peas, corn on the cob, grits, ruttabeggas… should I go on? Because I totally can. Through my badder than bad days, I have been extremely blessed to have Joost by my side as a constant support and rock, my family (I love you!), my wonderful friends (special shout out to the whatsapp group chats, Miltown BFFs and Liberty RebelZ), my new dutch friends (thank you for welcoming and accepting a character like myself), and you, readers of Sequins and Bow Ties. I’ve said time and time again, and will continue to say, S&B is so much more than just a blog; S&B is how I shrink the ‘across the pond’ distance, share my thoughts, experiences and keep in touch with those back home (and around the world). So to everyone who has ever read S&B, made a comment, or liked a post – thank you – because you make the awesome, good, bad and badder than bad days a bit more sunny… and since I love ‘sunniness’ (I am from the Sunshine State), I give you sunflowers.

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Totally off topic, but quick update – my ‘no blogging for a week’ has legit reasoning… My apartment sold! So you know what that means – apartment hunting, actually finding a place before I head back to The States (Sept 8!), packing, moving, the works… And pretty sure I will be saying bye-bye to Breda and hello BIG CITY! To be continued…

Until next time – tot ziens!

XX – Whitney

farmer’s feet

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Can you believe 3 million of these wooden babies (babies as in clogs) are made each and every year? While a large part of the market is in thanks to tourists and their need for Dutch souvenirs, there are still people who continue to wear klompen (Dutch for wooden clogs) on a daily basis. These people are typically farmers and gardeners – who have legit reasons for wearing. Traditional all-wooden Dutch clogs are accredited as safety shoes and can withstand almost any sort of impact and penetration (including sharp objects). Interestingly enough, they are also more protective than most steel-toed boots, as the wood cracks rather than dents in extreme accidents (which allows for the clog to be easily removed without the continued pressure you’d feel in a boot).

Ever since I moved to the Netherlands, I’ve had a slight obsession with the clogs and have dreamed about adding a pair to my shoe collection. Who wouldn’t want a pair, right? Well, my dream became a reality as I received these lovely klompers (Whitney language) as a birthday gift from Joost’s dad and Margreet! I guess they took note as I always marveled over theirs. While you won’t find city folk wearing these around town, when visiting the countryside, they’re a common site, as children play on the playground and adults tend to their lawn and crops – all while wearing the clogs. Just goes to show you, you can take the girl out of the country, but can never take the country out of the girl – no matter where life may take her.

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…& I don’t know about you… or any of the Dutch farmers, but these shoes make me wanna do a little folk dancing.

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Until next time – tot ziens!

XX – Whitney

my first dutch birthday

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As of this past Monday, I am 27 years wise. Besides my boyfriend continuously reminding me from 7.29 until 8.23 I am four years older (yes, I am a cougar and proud of it), this ‘birthweek’ has been a happy one. Of course I was a bit bummed I couldn’t spend it in The States with my family and besties (thankful I was able to celebrate early with my fam last week), but I have to admit, my boyfriend, his family and our friends, totally made my day from sunrise to sunset super special.

I kicked off the morning waking up to a precious message on my chalkboard and serious jet lag (really, it felt like I had been run over by a train), but I couldn’t let a little time zone difference get me down – so it was off to lunch with Joost’s sisters, Babette and Charlotte. I’m kicking myself that I didn’t make a Kodak moment of the lunch date, but I can reassure you it was filled with good convo, lots of laughs and heerlijk (delicious) food.

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After lunch I was surprised with all of the above and the rest is history. Joost, Niels and Sjoerd were great sports in making this old lady, a happy old lady – everything from the party hats, to the sushi cake (hilarious) to the game playing was so fun, so creative and so special.

A big thank you (and hug and kiss) to everyone who played a part in making my birthday one to remember. From the cards, to the calls, to the FB shout outs, they all were greatly appreciated and forever cherished.

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Until next time – tot ziens and fijne weekend!

XX – Whitney