new year’s day ((dutch)) tradition



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.


Want to add a little sweetness to your American New Year’s Day black-eyed pea tradition? Whip up your own OBs via – 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

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.


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


Enjoying our new gourmet set


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


Park Valkenberg

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Tasty treat on the terraces


Festive Queen’s Day decor still colors the city


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

handing over the throne – queen’s day 2013

A day filled with breathtaking, exciting, historical and fairy tale moments was none other than Queen’s Day 2013. For the first time in 122 years, the Netherlands witnessed an inauguration of a King, formally known as Crown Prince Willem-Alexander. The very well-liked, former Queen Beatrix, now 75 years old, reigned for 33 years and followed in her mother’s and grandmother’s footsteps with the decision to abdicate. Being new to the country, almost like an outsider looking in, I sense the country will miss having the beloved Beatrix as Queen, but sights are soaring for King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima – it was so refreshing to feel the genuine love, emotion and devotion, not only from the people of Holland, but the royal family as well.


Pre-Ceremony –

After only two hours of sleep, the day began ridiculously early (initial alarm – 330am, snooze button Xs 6, rise and shine at 4am; it really should be illegal to be up at this time of day, as I am no morning person). Holding my eyes open with toothpicks, I decked myself in the appropriate Queen’s Day attire (never forgetting the sparkles) and caught the first train to Amsterdam. One connection and two hours later, I finally made it and was ready to work my way to the front of De Dam (The Square) and enjoy my front row seat – and boy oh boy, it was work.





Part I – Signing over the Kingdom, The Palace

Just before 11am, all of Holland witnessed the first and last sights of what was then and what is to come, as the former Queen Beatrix signed over the kingdom to her son, now King Willem-Alexander. Emotions were running high as the signatures were signed by the royal family and 30 witnesses.

Random sidenote: I do have to say, the book in which everyone signed, was quite possibly the biggest book I’ve ever seen in my life. I have a feeling the crowd agreed with me, as you could hear light chuckling throughout De Dam.



Part II – Balcony Speech, The Palace

Shortly after the signatures were signed, we were greeted by the new King, Queen and Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrix. King Willem-Alexander gave a very warm and heart-felt speech, focusing on the work and dedication of his mother, which brought tears to many eyes. The crowd responded by singing, “Bea Bedankt, Bea Bedankt, Bea, Bea, Bea Bedankt.” Princess Catharina-Amalia, Princess Alexia, and Princess Ariane then joined their parents on the balcony, waving, smiling and looking totally adorable. Princess Catharina-Amalia is the oldest of the children and is heir to the throne and received the title, “Princess of Orange” yesterday – wow, not too shabby for a 10-year-old.




After the speech, we then had FOUR hours until the next ceremony took place. But even with four hours on our hands, that left no time for grabbing a bite to eat or going to the restroom – only making our way to the front. My friends and I are proud to say, we eventually wiggled our way to the second row and quickly became statues – impossible to be moved and/or shoved.



Part III – Walking the Blue Carpet

Might not sound like it, but watching the royal families walk the blue carpet to the Nieuwe Kerk was so exciting (think Oscars Xs 100). Two thousand guests were invited to attend and witness the new king swearing allegiance to the constitution of the Netherlands before the Dutch parliament. Other monarchies were represented by crown princes and princesses from the UK, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Thailand and Japan – along with many others. The 25,000+ crowd stood silent, only ‘oohing’ and ‘aweing’ as the guests made their way into the church (I so wish I could have been in there). While all of the Crown Princes, Princesses, Head of State and others looked absolutely fabulous, Queen Maxima was radiant, stunning, breathtaking – really, there are no words to describe how beautiful she was. Can’t forget about King Willem-Alexander – he was very handsome as well.

One thing I loved was how Princess Beatrix, Queen Maxima, Princess Catharina-Amalia, Princess Alexia, and Princess Ariane all wore royal blue. Not sure if this was planned, but Princess Beatrix wore a dark shade, whereas Queen Maxima wore a medium shade and the Princesses an even lighter shade – maybe signifying the past, present and future? I unfortunately can’t copyright the thought, but my lovely Italian friend, Jules sure can.


















Part IV – The Investiture, Nieuwe Kerk

Once everyone was seated, the King and Queen made their unforgettable entrance and the ceremony began. Long story short, the King gave another heart-felt, reassuring and positive speech, was sworn in and was then (individually) sworn in by the members of parliament.







Part V – The Walk back to the Palace

To conclude the exciting day at De Dam, we were given another blue carpet runway show, as the Dutch royal family, along with the other royal families walked from the church to the palace. Truly an amazing and unforgettable day.


Part VI – Travelling Home

I don’t even want to go there (let’s just say I missed my train stop and got a little lost). Typical Whitney.



Until next time – tot ziens!

XX – Whitney

easter + love


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…


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

No Luck O’ the Irish

 Joost: “Babe, no blogging on the weekends.” (Oh, Europeans…)

Me: “But it’s a holiday! Therefore, it’s my blogging duty to post.”

Joost: “And what holiday is that?”

Me: “Uhmm, it’s St. Patrick’s Day. Ireland is a part of Europe. Show respect, babe.”

Joost: …Blank stare… Blank stare continues… & continues to continue.

With that being said, Holland does not celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. However, did that stop the American? Oh no. I went full force, dressed head to toe in green and had my pinchers ready for attack (my poor boyfriend).


We decided to take advantage of the clear skies and warm weather (it was a steamy 8 degrees Celcius aka 46 degrees Farenheit) and take a stroll through one of the local parks. Even though we’re still in the midst of winter, the park was surprisingly somewhat lush with trees, green grass and overgrown plants.





Along the way, we passed the Royal Military Academy of the Netherlands, where Joost has spent countless hours studying and training. I am always in awe of the architecture and detail of the buildings and the Academy did not disappoint (loved the moat)! The castle of Breda, where the academy lives, was built in 1350 – amazing it’s still standing and in usable condition – kudos to the builders. The Royal Netherlands Airforce and Royal Netherlands Army Officers both began training there in 1828.




As I am always fascinated with ‘the details’, the same goes with my daily ensemble. The finishing touches complete a look and take you from good to great, cute to chic, instantly. Today’s details included military-inspired epaulettes, a faux fur shawl, over-the-boot socks, belted waist (firm believer in showcasing the waistline), loads of wrist candy and rings – yes, even with gloves.




Until tomorrow (hooray for weekend highlights!) – tot ziens!

XX – Whitney

Oh! PS. While many of you are celebrating St. Patrick’s Day at a local Irish pub or delighting in your St. P Pintrest treats, I’ll be festively green in a healthy way. Darn you diet. Darn you.