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

memories of home

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After a 4am wakeup call and 20 hour travel day (which led to a 26 hour day), Joost and I finally made it to Florida… and I couldn’t be happier. Our first day in The States consisted of good ole Southern cooking, a Wal-Mart run (never thought I’d be so happy to see that place), a couple of Starbucks stops and quality time with my parents and sweet little bichon, Muffi.

Growing up in Florida, I often took the sunsets, sights and ski time for granted. Of course, once you move away, you realize the gem you once had and long to have it back. So, it was a given, my first Florida sunset would be at home overlooking the basin. The memories here are countless as year after year, weekend after weekend, there always seemed to be a birthday party, ball team get-together or simply, my favorite, a Monster Tube date with friends. When reflecting on these memories, I couldn’t help but watch the sunset with a big smile and happy heart.

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Until next time – tot ziens!

XX – Whitney

‘merica

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Happy birthday, America! Oh how I wish I was there to celebrate, but lucky me will have a 4th of July party on the 6th of July with my favorite Dutchies – wonder if they’re ready for all of the very American shenanigans I have planned… Anywho, I hope each and every one of you have a wonderful day filled with family, friends and delicious BBQ! As you might have guessed, I will be representing from across the pond in my Americana apparel (while trying to ignore the fact I have to wear a long sleeve button-up and jacket over my flag bikini… in July).

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the holiday, July 4th is in fact, America’s birthday. During the American Revolution, on July 2, 1776, the original 13 colonies separated and declared independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. It is then believed, the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4th, 1776 by America’s founding fathers (John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and George Washington). Fast forward to 2013 and America continues to enjoy their freedom due to the sacrifice and commitment of the US Military (home of the free, because of the brave). Obviously, that’s the meaning in a small nutshell, but the significance and importance of this day is far beyond words. Independence Day is commonly celebrated with family/friend parties, parades, barbeques, festive décor and apparel, beating the heat at the beach, river or pool, and of course, once nightfall hits, FIREWORKS! One of my fondest childhood memories is, year after year, going to watch the fireworks by boat.

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Like my DIY Jacket? So simple, yet so special – all you need is a camo jacket (mine is J.Crew from a while back) and SOS’s patches. Sew them on and wah-lah! I actually have a few more to add and look forward to showcasing until there’s, literally, no more room. Out of every single thing in my closet, I receive the most compliments and questions when I wear this jacket – truly a conversation piece.

Until next time – tot ziens!

XX – Whitney

differences v. 2.0

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Apologies for my week-long hiatus. Seems as though Mother Nature wanted to show “who’s boss” after my very proud 29 degrees celcius post. She was so kind to bring in loads of rain and lows in the mid 40s (7 degrees celcius)… which then brought in the good ole fever, cold, cough combo. I can’t even remember the last time I had a fever, but all I know is, it was 0% fun. With the cold/cough still lingering, I decided to shove it aside and make myself feel better with the essentials: bright colors, a poofy skirt, fun jewels and pretty heels. Sometimes, that’s all a girl needs.

My destination since Thursday has been my b-e-d, so I thought this would be the perfect time to showcase a “differences” post focusing on the greeting. Typically in the US, we greet one another with a handshake, simple hello or a light hug (unless your fam and then you get a bear hug) – quite different in the Netherlands.

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In most cases, you greet one another with a cheeky kiss… And not one…

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Switch cheeks… not two….

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Switch cheeks again, but THREE kisses! The only downside of the three kisses – when I get excited, I get excited. So waiting for the ‘kissing’ to be over before talking to someone drives me nuts (thank you mother for passing down your hyperness). I’ve caught myself a couple of times actually sneaking in a, “how are you” (aka “hoe gaat het”) or, “what do you want to do today” in between kisses. Have you ever visited or lived in a country with a different greeting style?

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Last, but not least, I’d like to thank my handshake/cheek kissing partner for their participation. Thanks, Yoshi (I mean Joost)!

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Until next time – tot ziens!

XX – Whitney

belgium brews, chocolates & waffles

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Feeling the need for a mini road trip, Joost and I spontaneously decided to take off to Belgium this weekend (and when I say mini, I mean it, as the Belgium border is about 25 minutes from Breda). When crossing into a different European country, you’ll find it surprising there’s no border patrol, flashing lights or police waiting to check your passports – it’s much like driving state to state in America. Many European countries are about the size of US states (fun fact of the day: Belgium is roughly the size of Maryland), so I guess driving through Europe is comparable to driving through the US, just with obvious differences, such as culture and languages. Speaking of different languages, Belgium has a few of their own. Half of the country speaks a dialect of Dutch called Flems, whereas the other half speak French (and apparently the two sides do not get along, but at least they both make great chocolate and waffles!).

Our road trip took us to the cute, cozy city of Antwerp (shopper’s paradise and second largest city in Belgium). When driving through Antwerp, you can’t help but notice the beautiful church planted in the city center – so it was a given that would be our first stop. The astonishing ‘Cathedral of our Lady’ was built-in 1352, although it’s never been completely finished, and the highest steeple reaches 404 feet high.

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While walking along, you can’t miss ‘the building with the flags’ also known as the Town Hall. Many sights of the city were blocked off and set up for a triathlon, so please excuse the random tents and car display. Joost and I will most certainly have to come back when the skies are brighter and no events are in place. On the other side of the square, you’ll notice tall, narrow and intricately decorated buildings, known as the guild houses. These were homes to the most skillful guilds of the 16th and 17th centuries and the beautifully gold crafted decor are symbolic representations of the guilds who lived in each.

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As our journey continued, we passed the cutest little cafes and shops – oh how I wish I could have delighted in the chocolates and waffles, but I’m currently watching my carb and sugar intake, so a warm coffee on a rainy day sufficed.

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Before the light drizzle turned into a monsoon, we were able to visit the river and even on a rainy day, the sights were beautiful. The Port of Antwerp is actually one of the largest in Europe (believe the Netherlands and Germany are the biggest) and continues to be a solid moneymaker for Belgium. The ships, cobblestone bridge and beautiful views had me at hello.

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Hopefully our next visit will include sunny skies and warm weather, as there were so many things we weren’t able to capture through a lens.

Until next time – tot ziens!

XX – Whitney

29 degrees (celsius)

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Happy Thursday, everyone and TGIAF (thank goodness it’s almost Friday)! This week has been spectacular as temps have reached a high of 29 degrees Celsius (84 degrees Fahrenheit) in Breda – really though, it’s about time since it’s mid-June. So, in celebration of the sunny warmth, I pulled for my most favorite nautical wear and came up with this oldie, but goodie anchor dress from last summer. Adore. Can it get any better? Why yes, yes it can. No clouds in sight, I decided to take a chance and unpack my calf-hair heels (was really thinking I would never be able to wear them or anything of the like due to the very common and unforeseen surprise showers). Miraculously, there was no rain, only sunshine and smiles.

Well, I must go now and work on tanning these legs (as you can see, it’s much-needed – sorry Florida, I know I’m letting you down).

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Until next time – tot ziens!

XX – Whitney

boys and their planes

Born and raised in a small town outside of Pensacola, Florida, I grew up watching (and loving) the Blue Angels. Some of my favorite childhood memories include boat rides with family and friends to Destin, Panama City and Pensacola Beach to watch their spectacular shows. I was always (and still am) amazed at their precise, flawless and suspenseful maneuvers, that leave you thinking, “did they really just do that… in a F-18 jet?” Knowing my love for the Blues, Joost knew exactly where we’d be this past Saturday as soon as I got wind of a Dutch air show… And he knew exactly who had dibs on the Blues cap.

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Not knowing what to expect, I was definitely in for a treat – seventeen countries were in attendance with their best pilots, aircrafts and tricks up their sleeves (some which made me ‘ooh’ and ‘awe’, while others I could watch with only one eye open due to the ‘dare devil’ stunts). Aircrafts ranged from a Finnish F-18 to the Dutch Apache helicopter (apparently this is the only Apache demo team in the world). Shows were nonstop from 9-5p, but that wasn’t the only entertainment. The grounds were packed with open aircrafts, obstacle courses, military-style face painting, simulators and much, much more (of course I loved the apparel stands – the best seller of the day had to be the flight suits for kids (so precious), as every little one seemed to be running around in them). There were also a lot of ‘demo stands’, which gave a closer look at the Air Force’s day-to-day operations, training (the wilderness, water and snow survival trainings – oh wow), equipment and weapons used. At the different stands, there were representatives from the Royal Netherlands Air Force to answer questions and provide personal insight on the subject – which I found to be super nice and a great way to make a connection.

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To not leave any team out, below you’ll find all who were in attendance for the air show, along with the 150,000 spectators (special shout out to the RNLAF, Italian Air Force and French Air Force as your shows were my favorites! Oh, and can’t forget the Italian announcer, whom the crowd and myself loved) –

Hawker Hunter, DHHF

C-47, BBMF

Saab Viggen, Swedish AF

Bolkow 105, German Army

C-1301, Royal Danish AF

MI-24, Czech AF

Red Arrows, Royal Air Force

SU-22, Polish AF

Pilatus PC-7, Austrian AF

Curtiss P-40, Fighter Collection

MIG-15, Fundacja Polskie Orly

F-16, AH-64 Demo and Launch Air Power Demo, RNLAF

F-18 Hornet, Finnish AF

Frecce Tricolori, Italian AF

Saab Gripen JAS-39, Czech AF

Patrouille Suisse, Swiss AF

Ramex Delta, Frech AF

Spitfire Formation, BBMF/RNLAF

F-16, Turkish AF

Patrouille de France, French AF

Jet Formation, RNLAF

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Happy 100th birthday, RNLAF and until next time – tot ziens!

XX – Whitney