two years strong

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Last week marked Joost and I’s two-year anniversary (hooray!) and I have to say, this one topped them all – mainly because it was our first major holiday/anniversary where we both lived in the same country and it gets even better – the same city. It felt good to celebrate without a pricey plane ticket (international relationship problems) and without our beloved friend, Skype.

We decided to keep things low-key, no fancy dinners or elaborate gifts, but instead, enjoy our time together and each other’s company. Don’t get me wrong, I love everything fancy and elaborate, but in this moment, it was nice to sit back, relax and simply, be in love.

Just because we agreed on no elaborate gifts, didn’t mean we couldn’t do a little something. After all, nothing makes me happier than personalized surprises, planning surprises and seeing surprised faces. So, I decided to shower J with all of his favorite things (had to add a touch of ‘Whitney’ with colorful balloons – originally planned for 24 – total # of months we’ve been together, but had to remember the non-elaborate pact, flower petals and sparkles). Capturing Joost’s ‘surprised’ face as soon as he walked in was the icing on the cake – these photos have been stored in case of a future need for blackmail (his expressions were hilarious).

When asking Joost if he saw this coming, he replied, “I know you, so I knew you were going to do something… but I thought you were going to cook me dinner.” Has he been dating another Whitney the last two years? Nevertheless, dinner was on him. Feeling the need for something a little Americana, we treated ourselves to the ever-so-romantic, Subway.

In our eyes, May 14, 2013, couldn’t have been more perfect.

((Favorites included – Coke Zero, Autodrop – Total Loss (licorice and gummy candy), Hertog Jan Xs 3, Nutella, popcorn, woorstenbroodjes (YUCK), Drop Fruit Duo (more licorice and gummy treats) and a homemade picture frame labeled, ‘Two Years Strong”))

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Until next time – tot ziens!

XX – Whitney

Oh! Can’t forget to share our ‘I love you because…” frame I update every time Joost visits –

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making a house, a home

From giving gifts, to sending packages, to decorating for a party – I like everything to be personalized and to tell a story. So, of course, the same goes with my new apartment in Breda! Below are just a few of my favorites (and once the sailboat makes it across the ocean with my decor, I’ll be sure to share more).

[[i love you because frame]]

One of my favorite things to do is update our, “I love you because…” frame. When I know Joost is coming to visit, I make sure to jot down yet another reason why I love him so. It’s a small effort and nothing extravagant, but Joost has said time and time again how much he enjoys the thought. I mean, who doesn’t love to be told why they’re so great?!

Of course you can write sentimental phrases, as I often do, or have a little fun and write something totally off the wall (I decided to share fun phrases and spare you of our ooey gooey details – you’re welcome).

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This little craft is super simple – all you need is a picture frame (purchased mine at V&D for one euro), piece of paper with “I love you because” written on it, dry erase marker and an eraser (cotton rounds work just fine).

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[[achievement frame]]

What does a girlfriend give her boyfriend that’s graduating from flight school and getting his wings (sidenote: we had only been dating three months)? Of course, slightly over-the-top options crossed my mind, but decided to shower him with personalized gifts instead. So glad I did. The signed frame is one of Joost’s (and my) favs. Almost two years later, I still enjoy looking at it everyday, as it brings back warm memories (and nervous ones – first time meeting his family and BFFs).

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[[firsts]]

We were super lucky to find an affordable, furnished apartment in the city center of Breda, but as with most things, there was a small catch. And ours – we aren’t allowed to paint or hang anything on the walls (so, unless there was already a picture or mirror hanging, there’s no room for fun). Bummer.

With that being said, yes, below you will find a lavender wall! While I would love to change it, at least it adds a little color to the room (trying to focus on positives). And since we can’t hang anything, I was happy to find these six picture frames at the top of the stairs and decided to showcase all of our ‘firsts’.

From left to right –

Frame 1 – first time ever meeting (Uncle’s farm in Citronelle, Alabama!) + first time seeing each other post farm (randomly ran into each other in New Orleans during Mardi Gras the next weekend… crazy, I know)

Frame 2 – first date (Joost rented a hotel at Pensacola Beach, so we could see each other multiple times during the weekend – he was stationed in Alabama and I was living 2 hours away in Florida) – McGuire’s Irish Pub, jet skiing and a night out at Flounder’s

Frame 3 – first weekend getaway – Destin, Florida

Frame 4 – first time visiting the Netherlands!

Frame 5 – first vaca together – Paris

Frame 6 – first vaca together pt. 2 – Venice

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[[memory box]]

When I arrived back in Texas after our first vacation (sad day – hate when vacas end), I had accumulated so much ‘stuff’ in those two weeks. So, it only seemed right to make a Memory Box! Inside you’ll find our receipts, pictures, brochures from places we toured, tickets, trinkets we purchased and small pieces of paper that list individual memories, quotes, places, new foods we tried – literally any and all memories we made during our trip.

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[[fun frame]]

Yes, American Dream and My Dutchie are our nicknames for each other – let the jokes begin. This is one of the first crafts I made for Joost – so no matter how ‘kid-like’ this frame appears, it will always have a place in our home, as it brings back great memories – oh, the power of pictures.

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[[where we’ve been]]

Confession: I might have gotten Joost addicted to Starbucks. Oops. No matter where we go, Joost’s iPad is searching for the closest SBUX, so it only felt right to begin a mug collection of all the places we’ve been together. Again, another easy way to tell our story and rekindle memories.

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Hope you enjoyed the read and hope a few ideas were sparked to showcase your own personal story as well.

Until next time – tot ziens!

XX – Whitney

easter + love

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Me: I need to go shopping for an Easter dress.

Joost: An a-whata?

Me: An Easter dress.

Joost: What’s that and why do you need it?

Me: …Confused stare combined with silence… It’s a dress you wear on Easter Sunday. I’m guessing it’s somewhat of an ‘American tradition.’

Joost: An American tradition? Or a Whitney tradition?

Can anyone out there vouch for me so my bf doesn’t think I’m a crazed shopaholic? Hmmm, now that I think of it, wonder if I can get him to fall for Easter = new dress, July 4th = new swimsuit, Thanksgiving = new accessories, Christmas = new wardrobe, etc. (while most importantly, remembering and celebrating the reason behind these special days). I may be on to something…

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Joost and I decided to do a little exploring (in my Easter dress – convenient yet inconvenient) and came across Wilhelminapark, which is characterized by greenery, ponds and monuments (yet another site I can not wait to revisit when the weather finally realizes it’s spring). Even in the midst of the everyday freezing temps, the park was still incredibly beautiful (never underestimate the sheer beauty of winter – trees with no leaves and all).

Calling the Netherlands my home for a month now, I’ve come to learn most everything (literally) is a piece of history with a fascinating story – and Wilhelminapark is no exception. The monuments were incredible as were the views. Look forward to sharing pictures of the monuments, along with their story in a later post (I know you are so waiting on the edge of your seat).

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Finally! A holiday that didn’t involve an overpriced plane ticket, jet lag and long (across an ocean long) distance traveling. Yes, Easter 2013 marks the first holiday Joost and I spent together without any of the above and I have to say, it was quite nice. Our weekend from Friday until Monday was filled with celebration, love, family, fun crafts, and way too many chocolate eggs. While I missed celebrating my favorite holiday at home with my family (miss/love you guys), I am very fortunate to have not only Joost, but his family as well. They are truly some of the kindest and most caring people I have ever met – thankful that I’ve always felt welcomed and can truly feel the warmth, happiness and kindness within their home. Geez, where are my tissues!

So, apologies I have no crazy “in-law” stories to share (I use the term “in-law” loosely, as we have yet to tie the knot), but I do look forward to sharing stories that include both sets of families spending holidays together (hint, hint – now someone buy those plane tickets)!

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Until next time – fill yourself and those around you with love and happiness!

XX – Whitney