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

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

party details

You can always count on holidays being my favorite days of the year as it brings family and friends together for a little R&R, hearty laughs, delicious treats and good company – and this 4th of July was no different. Well, slightly, as the 4th was celebrated on the 6th… and across the pond in Holland. However, the R&R, hearty laughs, delicious treats and good company was still very much there. Words can’t express how much fun I had planning, shopping (or should I say hunting – sometimes I felt like I was on a wild goose chase for the things on my list), decorating, sharing American traditions and being a part of such a fun and wonderful group of people.

The Outfit –

I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to find Americana wear! I’m talking one store, second outfit tried on easy. If you think I was the best dressed of the party – think again! There were American flag swimming trunks and shirts and stars + stripes everywhere! Absolutely loved.

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The Decor –

I found shopping for party supplies a bit on the difficult side as there’s no “Party City” or places of the like – plus, the actual decor is totally different – BUT, that just allowed for more creativity and craft time. I also learned mason jars do not exist in the Netherlands and ice, along with red plastic cups, are rare finds. Who knew?

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Treats and Spirits –

There’s nothing better than festive treats and spirits at a party – our menu included red, white and blue sangria with pineapple stars, a fruit flag, juicy watermelon, coozies to compliment the beer (apparently very American), buttery nips (also very American) and the star of the night… an American flag cake! We also had delicious BBQ, cucumber bites, potato salad, pasta salad and toasted bread.

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The Entertainment –

After dinner, we enjoyed beer pong tournaments (many played for the first time!) and posing in the photo booth. If you want fun and hysterically comical snap shots from your party – definitely opt for a PB. The next day, with temps soaring in the 80s, we enjoyed a wet and wild water balloon fight.

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Until next time – Joost and I will be on our way to vaca in the U-S-A!

XX – Whitney

land of the unknown

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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?).

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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.

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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

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cool cats gathering

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If you’re a ‘cool cat’, you were in Breda for the 43rd annual jazz festival, as it attracts jazz and music lovers from across the country (and performers from across Europe and even Japan). The festival began Thursday morning (which was yet another national holiday) and the last tune was played late Sunday evening. The four days was filled with non-stop gigs (roughly 180 – there were nineteen stages/locations throughout the city center), dancing, yummy food and lots of beer… Really, I’ve never seen so much beer in my life.

Being the ‘cool cats’ we are (pretty sure saying that downgraded us to uncool), Joost and I decided to take on the crowds and enjoy some jazz. Playing the clarinet in middle school (yours truly was the Band Captain in 8th grade), I’ve always had a tapping toe for music with a good beat – and if the good beat includes a scratchy voice, sax, trumpet, guitar and/or drums (just to name a few of my favs) – you’ve got yourself a happy, dancing girl. And a happy, dancing girl is exactly what I was.

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While I thoroughly enjoyed the concerts and listening to all of the bands, my absolute favorites were the walking bands that seemed to appear out of nowhere. Depending on location, they would stop, play a couple of tunes, take a beer break and march on. I feel like their motto was boogie-woogie, as that’s exactly what they did (tuba players included). It was so much fun dancing (and watching everyone dance) to the jazzy tunes with the band.

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Of course we ended our day with a few scoops of delicious gelato – how could we not? Until next time – tot ziens!

XX – Whitney

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snapshots along the way

Who’s that girl with the camera plastered to her face? If she lives in Breda, why yes, that could quite possibly be yours truly. I’ve gotten in the habit of never leaving home without my camera (and umbrella – don’t let the blue and cloudless sky fool you), because you never know when something might catch your eye and let’s face it, the perfect photo opp is never planned.

This week has been quite busy thanks to family, friends, holidays (there have been three in the past week and another tomorrow), festivals and of course, my Dutch language lessons, but I wouldn’t have it any other way (ok, maybe I would wish that I could learn Dutch in a blink of an eye, as the very common Dutch sounds are not agreeing with my southern drawl). Because of everything that’s been happening around me, I decided to share some of my favorite sights, tastes and fashions from the past few days.

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Saturday, May 4th marked Dodenherdenking or ‘Remembrance of the Dead” (same as America’s Memorial Day), as the Netherlands paid tribute to the fallen soldiers of WWII and wars since. At 8p, the entire country stopped to show their gratitude through two minutes of silence. A beautiful ceremony was held in De Dam in Amsterdam in which the King, Queen, WWII soldiers and civilian survivors were among those in attendance. The following day, May 5th, was Liberation Day, in which the country celebrated being free of Nazi Germany control during WWII.

Memorial in Breda for the fallen soldiers

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Delicious dinner party appetizer – beef carpaccio

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Enjoying our new gourmet set

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Potted plant from Joost’s mom – perfect addition to the balcony

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Park Valkenberg

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Tasty treat on the terraces

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Festive Queen’s Day decor still colors the city

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Enjoying maxi dress and ballet flat weather

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Super cute cafe I found while pondering through the city – Coffee & Cream will be seeing me again soon

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Loving the mobile gelato shop in front of Nassau Monument Valkenberg

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Until next time – tot ziens!

XX – Whitney

ungraceful ballerina leaps

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A Florida girl’s dream – well, add the beach and 10 degrees, but close enough for me! Spring has finally sprung in the Netherlands, where temps reached a heavenly 72 degrees. I can’t begin to describe how amazing it felt to pull a white tee from my closet (not as a layering piece, but as a standalone) and trade my boots for skimmers – there might have been a few ballerina leaps (minus the grace) through the apartment, coupled with shouts of “I’m free! I’m free!”, but I’ll never admit to it.

Basking in the sun and soaking in the rays was not a question, but a given. But what were we to do? Then I remembered – last year when Joost and I were long distance, I “Just Because” gifted him with a picnic pack (much more manly than a wicker basket and complete with everything you need, including an insulated bottle holder and pouch), with a card saying nothing but, “can’t wait for picnics in the park + you in my arms.”  So, we packed our handy little pack and were on our way, hand in hand, to enjoy our first picnic together.

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We found a perfect spot in a nearby park and delighted in the sun’s warmth, a fresh lunch and each other’s company. While Joost began to study, I decided to people watch (one of my favorite past times). I found it heartwarming to see families biking, playing soccer, and throwing frisbees together; kids skateboarding, laughing, and playing tag; and of course, what’s spring without love birds? So yes, I enjoyed seeing love birds doing what they do best – be in love (I might have enjoyed being one myself).

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Until next time – tot ziens!

XX – Whitney

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