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

‘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

differences v. 1.0

“What’s it like over there?” “What kind of food do you eat?” “What are the people like?” “What sports do they play?” As you can imagine, when chatting with friends and family back home (love and miss you guys!), I get a lot of questions. So, every now and then, I thought it would be fun to share differences – minor and major… and some just plain alien. First up – the grocery store!

Grocery shopping is a little different in the Netherlands… Ok, a lot different and definitely took some getting used to. Anytime I went to Whole Foods, Super Target, or Super Wal-Mart (I miss you all) in the US, I would pack my truck full of goodies (at least two week’s worth), as I loathe the grocery store and tried making visits as infrequent as possible. Well, not the case here. My every-two-week visit is now every two days (sometimes everyday), since my baby Expo was traded in for my own two legs, amongst other soon-to-be discussed reasons.

Well guys, let’s go grocery shopping – Dutch style!

1. Never leave home without your already-paid-for shopping bag – or else be prepared to buy a new one (or stuff your buys in your purse – I might have done this a few times).

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2. Well, at least I don’t have to worry about getting the “broken wheel buggie” (you guys know what I’m talking about!), because your buggie is now a basket. So, make every item you place in your basket count, as things tend to get a little heavy.

*The larger stores do have buggies.

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3. Come mentally prepared and focused, as everything is in Dutch – thankfully, there’s a convenient ‘Translate’ app available for download on all smart phones.

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4. Work those muscles! Things getting heavy yet?

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5. Tell yourself to just walk away…

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6. The Coca-Cola selection consists of Coca-Cola, Cola Light (aka Diet Coke), Coke Zero and Dr. Pepper… Consider yourself  lucky if you find a Mt. Dew or Vanilla Coke. Speaking of, will someone please mail me a Diet Dr. Pepper (in a can)? I will love you forever.

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6a. I wonder if I’m the only person who browses through the Coke bottles for names I know… Super excited I finally get to, “Share a Coke Zero with Joost!”

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7. Time to check-out! While the cashier is swiping your buys, you must also get to work and bag, bag, bag (during my first trip, I might have waited for someone to pack my things… and yeah, they never came). Also, you must be quick, because as soon as you pay, the next person’s things begin coming your way – who knew the grocery store could be so intense.

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8. Time to walk (or bike) home!

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9. Invite your “Cola friend” over for dinner and, “eet smakelijk!”

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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