land of the wooden clogs

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Welcome to farmer’s land – also known as the small village of Nieuwleusen! After spending last Thursday at the (very busy, very crowded and very loud) jazz festival, Joost and I decided to pack our bags, head north and get away for a little R&R. Obviously I have no idea what the future holds, but if the words “homeowners” and “Netherlands” are in the same sentence – I can only hope it’s somewhere of the like. Besides, where else am I going to raise my pet sheep?

After two hours or so of driving, we finally made it and were surrounded by green pastures, typical farm animals (even Belted Galloway aka oreo cows), and most importantly, Joost’s dad and Margreet! Our visit consisted of great conversation, learning how to drive a stick shift (only stalled out 7 times), highly intense board games (yours truly won every game – insert evil laugh), jogs through the forest, eventful bike rides (to be explained in just a moment), tending to the horses in wooden clogs, shopping, visiting a mansion (coming soon to a S&B post near you) and peace + quiet (minus the 9am Saturday morning tractor show, where every farmer felt it was necessary to lay on their horns… not honk, but lay). All in all, Joost and I had a wonderful weekend and can’t wait to visit again soon.

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The weather looked promising – blue skies, white, fluffy clouds and sunshine – so we decided to take a bike ride through the forest. Dear little Mother Nature proved my statement, “never trust Holland’s blue skies and sunshine” to be exactly right. About 15 minutes into our ride, the clouds turned dark, the flood gates opened and we were drenched (I should really invest in waterproof mascara) – and I’m not talking sprinkles, but a full on torrential downpour. Joost joked that I am now, officially, a Dutch woman as I’ve been initiated into the culture. But really, once was enough.

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The downpour only lasted 10 or so minutes, so Joost and I decided to head back, change and continue our cycling adventures. I gave up on ‘being cute’ and immediately went for my running gear (in case of any other wet surprises). We enjoyed ‘baa’ing at the sheep (yes, we are those kind of people) and taking in all of the beautiful country sights.

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Everything about the country agreed with me – except Ollie the Cat. He obviously wasn’t a fan.

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Until next time – tot ziens!

XX – Whitney

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