farmer’s feet

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Can you believe 3 million of these wooden babies (babies as in clogs) are made each and every year? While a large part of the market is in thanks to tourists and their need for Dutch souvenirs, there are still people who continue to wear klompen (Dutch for wooden clogs) on a daily basis. These people are typically farmers and gardeners – who have legit reasons for wearing. Traditional all-wooden Dutch clogs are accredited as safety shoes and can withstand almost any sort of impact and penetration (including sharp objects). Interestingly enough, they are also more protective than most steel-toed boots, as the wood cracks rather than dents in extreme accidents (which allows for the clog to be easily removed without the continued pressure you’d feel in a boot).

Ever since I moved to the Netherlands, I’ve had a slight obsession with the clogs and have dreamed about adding a pair to my shoe collection. Who wouldn’t want a pair, right? Well, my dream became a reality as I received these lovely klompers (Whitney language) as a birthday gift from Joost’s dad and Margreet! I guess they took note as I always marveled over theirs. While you won’t find city folk wearing these around town, when visiting the countryside, they’re a common site, as children play on the playground and adults tend to their lawn and crops – all while wearing the clogs. Just goes to show you, you can take the girl out of the country, but can never take the country out of the girl – no matter where life may take her.

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…& I don’t know about you… or any of the Dutch farmers, but these shoes make me wanna do a little folk dancing.

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Until next time – tot ziens!

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

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

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

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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swan attack

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This weekend was a happy one, as I was beyond excited to welcome Joost back from a two-week training course – which felt like the longest 14 days ever (funny to think how quickly we’ve become spoiled with seeing each other every weekend, where it once was every 8-12 weeks). Along with the “Welcome Home” celebration, we also had Aspergedag 2013 on our agenda (family code name for the annual Asparagus Party – bet you can’t guess what we ate!). On our way to the party, I spotted the cutest little swan family and of course, a photo opp was totally necessary. Everyone seemed to be in for the photo shoot, minus the father swan – see ruffled feathers below. It would have been nice to know swans are a protective and aggressive breed beforehand.

Therefore, from this experience as well as the stork one, it can be concluded Dutch birds do not favor brightly colored Americans named Whitney.

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Joost and I were surprised with beautiful (and healthy) blooms at the Asparagus Party – hoping I can keep this mini garden alive! Any tips?

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Until next time – tot ziens!

XX – Whitney