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

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Until next time – tot ziens!

XX – Whitney

boston tribute

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While there are hardly words to describe what happened
I have a few to say
My heart weighs heavy
As heavy as the clouds, cold and gray

Why do people do these things?
That’s one thing I’ll never understand
How one can take so many lives, all so innocent
Welcomed too early to the Promised Land

As reality sets in
Some will never be able to say
“I love you”, “Goodnight”, “I’m so proud of you”
Or walk their daughter down the aisle on that very special day

To those who helped save a life
One, two or three
You are America’s heroes
And for your efforts we salute thee

United we stand
United we fall
United we will always be
All for one and one for all

Sending my prayers and deepest condolences to those of Boston and all affected by Monday’s tragedy.

Until next time – hold your loved ones a little tighter and a little longer, for we should all be thankful for yet another day.

XX – Whitney